Twittergate is lame

Citizens of the blogosphere: we've been had

Citizens of the blogosphere: we've been had. The revelations from the dubiously named Twittergate have been about as exciting as watching wet paint dry, and has served only to hype the TechCrunch and Twitter brands. When Michael Arrington first announced there were "hundreds of confidential Twitter documents" sitting in TechCrunch's inbox, the TC co-founder wrote, "a few of the documents have so much news value that we think it's appropriate to publish them."

Yesterday, Arrington made good on his promise to deliver the news with a post by Eric Schonfeld entitled, "Twitter's Internal Strategy Laid Bare: To Be "The Pulse Of The Planet." Here's what we learned from this revelatory piece of journalism: Twitter is wary of getting too close to Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Who isn't? The micro-blog is trying to build its user base (with a really, really lofty goal of one billion tweeps). That's not much of a shocker. Twitter also wants to make money, put its brand on every device possible, and the company is moving forward with various plans to do just that. I don't know what you think about this, but to me that's not news value, that's just confirming the obvious.

The impact these "revelations" have had on the reading public have done nothing more than create a pro-Twitter public relations campaign that makes NBC's Inside the Obama White House look like hard-nosed journalism. Wait, no -- I take that back. We did find out that Sean P. Diddy Coombs values his "contribution" to Twitter more than the company's management does. Admittedly, that is far more shocking than Brian Williams' discovery that the Obama White House is filled with workaholics on a constant sugar high from eating too many M&Ms. But not by much.

What happened to Arrington's claim that TechCrunch would post the original pitch document for the much-hyped Twitter reality-TV show because it was "awesome"? TechCrunch did reveal a document for a TV show called Final Tweet, but that was not the same document TechCrunch promised its readers.

Perhaps the folks over at TC had a change of heart. There has been a firestorm of opinion headed their way over this fiasco. On Daring Fireball, John Gruber called Arrington "a very sad excuse for a man." The reality-challenged Robert X. Cringely also dug into the man dubbed Captain Crunch. On Twitter, Arrington was hit with criticisms and accusations about his decision to post the documents. He even got into it with Twit-celeb Ashton Kutcher, but the two have since reconciled and may do a karaoke tour later this summer.

Twitter's lawyers may also have had an effect on TC's zealousness. In TechCrunch's final revelatory post, Schonfeld wrote that Twitter had given TechCrunch the "green light by Twitter" to post the documents. That was news to Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, who quickly denied that allegation on Twitter and in a blog post yesterday.

As the Twittergate smoke clears, it's starting to look less likely the two companies will end up in court over this. Some have suggested this entire affair may have been a PR stunt concocted by TechCrunch and Twitter to raise the micro-blog's brand. That's unlikely given the security concerns over Google Apps, but I think it's fair to say that Twitter's not entirely upset over the favorable reaction these "revelations" have received.

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Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
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