Posted November 19, 2010 3:45 pm by with 0 comments

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Social media data company, Gnip has announced a partnership with Twitter that will allow them to sell up to 50% of Twitter’s data stream to anyone who can afford the price. And it’s quite a price.

According to ReadWriteWeb, “Gnip will offer 50% of all the messages posted to Twitter for $360,000 per year, or 5% of all messages for $60,000 per year. Gnip refers to these as the Halfhose and the Decahose and they’re also offering a Mentionhose which hones in on all @replies and retweets of a specific name.

The firehose stream can only be used internally, not displayed, so its primary function is to help developers test their social media related products. It’s also a source for companies who make a living by monitoring social media and the web. Those two appear to be Gnip’s target customers, but what about marketers? Surely there’s marketing data to be mined from 50% of Twitter’s entire data stream.

This brings up several issues. First of all, the price tag will make it impossible for most business to take advantage of the offered data. The ReadWriteWeb article suggests that this will simply increase the need on the black market. Let’s stop here and enjoy the concept of Twitter data on the black market — images of men in trenchcoats on dark street corners who exchange bird calls as secret signals.

Then there’s our old friend Privacy. He really shouldn’t even stick his head in here because the very nature of posting your inner thoughts to a public forum means he’s not a part of the club. However, you know how people are. The first time a law firm buys a Mentionhose in order to support their case, there’s going to be trouble.

(Side note: Private Twitter account data is not included in the streams being sold by Gnip.)

Finally, there’s the whole idea of Twitter or any social media site as a data sales agent. ReadWriteWeb quotes Steve Rubel, SVP, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital as saying;

“I think all these companies could see that there’s more money in data services than there could be for them in advertising. No one is going to have more data than the platforms themselves – for Twitter that could be a bigger money maker than advertising.”

So is this a good thing or a bad thing? Honestly, I’m not sure. I believe that Twitter has a right to sell any public data they accumulate.  Knowing that the data is for sale won’t change the way I Tweet, but that might not be the case across the board. I imagine there are quite a few people who would think twice about what they type if they realized that their words were being saved, sold and analyzed.

In the end, though, it’s not about Twitter and Gnip selling streams, it’s about what companies do with the streams when they buy them.

What do you think of Gnips “fire” hose sale? Does it worry you, or just another cog in the great social media machine?