Twitter Launches Embedded Tweets, but there are Flaws

Posted by Chris on May 4, 2010   |   Comments:  


Ever since this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin Twitter has been quite busy lately with acquisitions, rolling out new services, and launching their own Twitter clients. Well today Twitter took another step forward and launched a new tool that allows users to embed a tweet into a Web page or blog post. The new tool, Blackbird Pie, is a website that will create an embeddable tweet once a user has entered the tweet’s URL in the field provided.

Here’s How It Works
1. Copy the tweet’s URL you wish to embed by clicking the tweet’s timestamp. (i.e. about 21 hours ago)
2. Visit Blackbird Pie, paste the tweet’s URL in the field provided, and then click “Bake it.”
3. If you’re satisfied with the preview, select and copy the code at the bottom.
4. Visit your Web page or blog post and paste the code into the desired location.
Done!

Can’t find a “Fitted” Twitter shirt that I like. Color: NavyB w/BabyB Letters. Placement: Upper back. Message: “Follow Me @ChrisCredendinoless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®


Above is a tweet from my Twitter timeline that I embedded into this blog post so you can get an idea how it will look on your site. As you can see, the embedded tweet that is created by Blackbird Pie is more attractive than the traditional screen grabs of tweets most of us have used over the years.

There are some really nice things that make an embedded tweet attractive. For starters, the embedded tweet picks up some of the styling on your own site, e.g. font family, font color, link color, etc…. Another thing is that an embedded tweet provides a much better user experience than traditional screen grabs in that they allow @mentions, hashtags, links, and the individual ‘s account to be linked and clickable. Lastly, an embedded tweet will display the Twitter background used by the person tweeting.

Personally, I think the embedded tweet feature is a great idea with a lot of potential. However, I do have some concerns about the feature so let’s take a look at some of the potential problems that surround embedded tweets

Content aggregation: One potential problem is that embedded tweets will not be visible on a site in the event that Twitter.com encounters a “fail whale” problem, hence the service goes down. It’s no secret that Twitter.com is over capacity every now and then, therefore, since embedded tweets rely on content aggregation it could be an issue at some point.

Static timestamp: Unfortunately the timestamp on an embedded tweet is static and reads “less than a minute ago” instead of the actual timestamp you would see if you visited the tweet at Twitter.com. This may not be an issue for some people, however, readers may want to see the date and time a tweet was posted to Twitter without having to click the timestamp and visit Twitter.com.

Embed this Tweet: Although this is not a problem, it’s something I believe could improve the embedded tweet feature. Instead of a user going through multiple steps to embed a tweet into their site, there should be a “Embed this tweet” link on every tweet. When a user clicks “Embed this tweet” on a tweet they will be taken to the Blackbird Pie website where the code is already generated. The only thing the user needs to do is copy the code and paste it into their site. It’s that simple. Currently each tweet has a “Reply” and “Retweet” link so adding a new “Embed this tweet” link would be a perfect addition to the list of links.

Embedded tweets will not delete: Since this has not been addressed by Twitter, I decided to do my own test to see what will happen to an embedded tweet should a person delete the tweet from their timeline. Let’s take a look at the tweet below. After using Blackbird Pie to generate the code, I embedded the tweet into this post and then deleted the tweet from my timeline. Well, as you can see the embedded tweet is still visible in this post even though I deleted it from my timeline. If you click the link “less than a minute ago” to go to the tweet you will get a message that reads “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!” In my opinion, this is both good news and bad news. The good news is that bloggers like myself don’t need to worry about someone deleting a tweet from their Twitter timeline and the site being left with a large empty space where an embedded tweet once resided. At the time of this writing, once a tweet in baked using Blackbird Pie and then embedded into a site, it will never be deleted unless it’s deleted by the site’s author. The bad news is that users who delete tweets are out of luck if their tweet was embedded on a Web page or blog post. This reminds me when Twitter had a serious flaw and deleted tweets were not removed from the search index even though they were deleted by the user. Nonetheless, I’m not sure how I feel about this, but from a privacy perspective I can understand if people get disappointed if they delete a tweet, yet it is still visible on another medium.

Now: Doing more private beta testing for the Qik streaming video app.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck



Although Blackbird Pie needs some work, I really like what Twitter has done here. I’m going to start using the new feature soon and see how it goes. The embed code is a bit of a mess, but I’m sure they will clean it up in the future.

“Savy