1. What are these changes?
You can now search only the tweets of those whom you’re following or those of all Twitter users. Plus, when you use Twitter’s search, there are (1) auto-spelling corrections, (2) suggestions for related searches that aren’t exactly what you’ve typed in your search and (3) search results that will include both real names and user names.
Twitter explains the full details on a post, Simpler search.
2. What do these changes mean for users?
As CNET observes, these changes are definitely helpful but not “revolutionary.” Twitter remains “fairly weak” as far as enabling users to search its vast archive:
Search results are still not returned from deep in the archives, even when Twitter has tweets in there. Try searching for “yahoo until:2012-06-01,” for example. That should return results for “yahoo” before the first of June. Twitter’s archive goes back that far, but that search, for me, returned zero results.
Twitter has never made claims to being an archival service. Results are still strictly time-ordered, which can make it difficult to use for many queries. The improved filtering options do make search much better, but looking closely at Twitter search only reminds us that Twitter serves us well as the Web’s short-term memory.
For “deep and archiving searching,” Google and other search engines remain the sites of choice, for now.
3. What do these changes tell us about where Twitter’s going?
Twitter’s new search suggests what direction the social media site may be going, to compete with Google for searching on the internet, notes Talking Points Memo. Currently, one billion unique Google searches are performed every day, with Google being the website with the most traffic in the world. Facebook is second and Twitter, ninth.
There is one area in particular where Twitter could challenge Google, in (revenue-generating) advertising and, in particular, in mobile advertising (the very area where Facebook has struggled). TPM points out that Twitter has “recently experienced greater success with selling and getting users to click on mobile advertisements.” On asking Twitter if the new search features might make it possible to show more ads, TPM was told “no,” though Twitter’s “Promoted Tweets” will appear at the top of search results for some searches.
The battle for internet search dominance and social media has more players besides Google and Facebook. Since these internet sites have become so crucial to how we find information and how we communicate, Twitter’s changes could turn out to be the start of a something new and big — or not.
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