Twitter Launches ‘Follow’ Button

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Companies can now embed a ‘Follow’ button on their websites, to encourage readers to follow their tweets

Twitter on Tuesday rolled out a “Follow” button that works in a similar way to Facebook’s popular “Like” button, allowing readers to follow all of a Twitter account’s tweets with one click.

Like Facebook’s button and Twitter’s pre-existing “Tweet” button, the tool can be embedded by third parties on their own web pages, eliminating the need for a reader to go to the Twitter site and search for the account they want to follow.

Staying connected

At launch Twitter said the button had already been adopted by 50 websites, including AOL.com, IMDB, MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal and CBS Interactive.

“For publishers and brands, adding the Follow button to your website and using Twitter to stay connected with your audience is a powerful combination,” Twitter said in a statement. “People who follow your account are much more likely to retweet and engage with your tweets, and to repeatedly visit your website.”

Twitter also launched a tool for configuring the “Follow” button and adding it to a website.

Twitter currently has an audience of 20.6 million adults in the US alone, according to a recent estimate from eMarketer, up from 16.4 millioin in 2010. Facebook, by comparison, has 132.5 million, eMarketer said.

Google is also getting into the button game, with a “+1” button that launched in late March next to search results for about 2 percent of English-language results in the US. Google plans to add a feature allowing the +1 button to be added to third-party websites.

Twitter and privacy

Twitter has recently been dealing with issues related to the privacy of its users, confirming last week it is prepared to hand over the details of those users who recently breached super injunctions, if “legally required”.

The admission comes amid ongoing public debate about the strict libel and privacy laws in this country.

When asked about the escalating dispute over gagging orders in the UK, Twitter’s newly appointed general manager of European operations, Tony Wang was quoted as saying in the Guardian newspaper: “Platforms should have responsibility not to defend the user, but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself.”

Earlier this month a Twitter user used the microblogging website to flout British privacy laws by tweeting a list of celebrities who – it was claimed – had taken out injunctions. That leak was designed to discredit the trend for celebrities taking out injunctions to protect their privacy. However, the list did have inaccuracies, falsely naming a number of celebrities, including socialite Jemima Khan and TV presenter Gabby Logan, as being protected by injunctions.

In another incident this month thousands of Twitter users tweeted the name of married premiership footballer Ryan Giggs. Previously referred to as CTB, he was identified on Monday by Liberal Democrat John Hemming, who used parliamentary privilege to identify him in parliament.

Giggs had responded to the initial leak with legal action against Twitter, demanding it reveal information on the “persons unknown regarding the publication of information on Twitter accounts”.

Tweetdeck

Meanwhile Twitter has officially confirmed that it has closed the long-rumoured acquisition of popular British-based Twitter client, TweetDeck.

The news was officially confirmed by TweetDeck’s founder Iain Dodsworth, who announced the news on the company blog, where he proclaimed that “this is a huge win for us all”.

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