In the beginning, Google was not going to be evil, Mark Zuckerberg said he cared about your privacy, and Twitter still dared to change the world, that curious abbreviated messaging platform that became “the SMS of the Internet.” The only rule – the company’s “Don’t Be Evil” – was 140 characters. With that dictum, it was at once the new home of the reality Internet and the voice of a revolution. A giant waste of time and the future of real-time communication.
No longer. Google has revealed a more complicated side, its hands now in an assortment of pots as it tangos with Apple for the future of your cell phone screen. Facebook, the current startup era’s one-time golden child, has been the subject of an Academy Award-winning film as well as a furiously hyped IPO, but now finds itself in perilous financial straits, its stock tanking along with the apparent collapse of the social media bubble. And Twitter, on the cusp of going full-on mainstream is taking a cue from the Zuck, as it consolidates its chips and readies itself to cash in and become the media company it always secretly desired to be.
Like Facebook at its inception, Twitter was framed around a platform for the people. But the dense history of communication and transportation serves to remind how, as companies occupy a greater mindshare, they become ever more comfortable flexing their information monopoly muscles.