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Twitter announces photo-sharing service

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Last month, Stefanie Gordon, an unemployed 33-year-old from Hoboken, N.J., snapped photos with her iPhone on her flight from New York to West Palm Beach of the soaring launch of space shuttle Endeavor.

Her photos were viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter and appeared on newscasts and in newspapers around the globe.

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Her brief moment of instant celebrity captured yet again just how central photos –- not just 140 characters -– are to how people communicate on Twitter.

(Another racier example: Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-N.Y.) is under siege from reports that a college student who follows him received a picture showing a man in his underwear. Weiner said his account was hacked).

On Wednesday, Twitter’s Chief Executive Dick Costolo announced at the All Things D conference that his popular online service is rolling out its own photo service over the next couple of weeks.

Photos will be directly connected to tweets on Twitter.com and can be viewed there. Twitter will also showcase the most popular ones on its home page.

The service ensures that users own the rights to the photos they post.

It will create competition for third-party services such as Twitpic and YFrog. Costolo said the service should eliminate some of the ‘friction’ in posting photos to Twitter.

All Things D’s Walt Mossberg said he had not experienced any difficulty. But Costolo said Twitter is focused on making the service more accessible to less tech-savvy folks.

Costolo also announced a new version of Twitter search that will rank tweets by relevance and will also include photos and videos.

The services will eventually also be available to mobile users.

Costolo refused to answer several questions about whether Twitter is profitable.

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-- Jessica Guynn

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