'Get ready for a TV-like Twitter,' researchers say of network's future

July 25, 2013 at 4:59 PM
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NEW YORK, July 25 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers studying the sustainability and future of Twitter say the social network will eventually turn into a non-evolving, static structure like TV.

The study by researchers at Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh examined the motivations behind why everyday people, with no financial incentive, contribute to Twitter.

In an experiment, the researchers randomly selected some Twitter users and through the use of other synthetic accounts increased the selected group's followers.

As the selected group's followers increased, so did the group members' posting rate.

However, the researchers found, when that group reached a certain level of stature -- a moderately large number of followers -- the posting rate declined significantly.

"Users began to realize it was harder to continue to attract more followers with their current strategy, so they slowed down," Columbia researcher Olivier Toubia said. "When posting activity no longer leads to additional followers, people will view Twitter as a non-evolving, static structure, like TV."

Posting by everyday people on Twitter will eventually slow down, the researchers predicted, although celebrities and commercial users would continue to post for financial gain.

"Twitter will become less of a communications vehicle and more of a content-delivery vehicle, much like TV," Toubia said. "Peer-to-peer contact is likely to evolve to the next great thing, but with 500 million followers, Twitter isn't just going to disappear.

"It's just going to become a new way to follow celebrities, corporations, and the like."

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