News service proposed by Twitter co-founder

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, proposes the ultimate grassroots news organization.

Fail whale

Fail whale

A news organization with 175 million reporters around the world? Not quite. But the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, wants to harness the membership of the microblogging service to create the ultimate grassroots news organization.

"From the very beginning this has seemed almost as if it's a news wire coming from everywhere around the world," he told Reuters Television on Monday. "I think a Twitter News Service would be something that would be very open and shared with many different news organizations around the world."

At the moment, the idea seems more like a trial balloon than a fleshed-out concept. The network doesn't necessarily need to be run by Twitter, but could be a partnership with existing organizations and be open. Sounds kind of vague, eh?

Twitter currently shares its content with Google, Bing and Yahoo, but Stone sees other news outlets benefitting from more specialized access to Twitter's 175 million registered users. What's more, Twitter could play an active role in connecting news gatherers with people at the scene of events where news is breaking.

Following Stone's musings about a news service, Twitter "communications guy" Sean Garrett threw cold water on the idea.

"No plans for 'Twitter news network'," he initially tweeted. Later he added, "[Stone] pondered how news orgs could do this on their own (or together). Perhaps w/ direct access to Twitter data all hypothetical."

With rumors swirling about Twitter mulling over tapping into investors for more than $100 million in dough, questions could be raised about whether Stone's comments were aimed at giving money lenders something to further stoke their already overheated eagerness to lavish cash on Twitter.

It also raises questions about whether or not a Twitter news service, should one emerge from the vapors, should be charging for its content.

As MG Siegler points out at TechCrunch: "If Twitter actually wants to 'be a force for good,' perhaps such a service is better left free. Otherwise, they'd be dictating who got access to potentially important information based on financial agreements."

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John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)

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