twitter-logoSomething has gone awry with Twitter, and it looks like the social network’s proofs have done a disappearing act on us.

On Friday, Twitter stopping showing share counts on their tweet buttons, which was one of the main ways to tell how popular a tweet is.  Of course, this move isn’t exactly a total surprise, as this move was announced back in October.  Twitter said that it had to make the change in order to simplify its platform.  The API endpoint that was being used to keep count of shares was totally accurate anyway.

Share totals even disappeared from sites that included social buttons with share totals, such as Slate, Entertainment Weekly and many, many others.

Slate vice chairman, Dan Check told Digiday, was taken by surprise by this move.  “We want that count back,” he had said.  “It’s meaningful to us. Having share counts along with comment counts is a strong way to underline that there’s a conversation around what we’ve written. We want to signal to readers that that conversation is happening.”

There was an uproar on Twitter itself, using the hashtag,  #SaveOurShareCounts to vent on the loss of their share counts.

It’s just unfortunate that publishers, those who use the service and help make Twitter run, don’t have much say in the matter.  Now, third-party providers have no free way of accessing full sharing data.  If they wanted to gain access to any data, they would have to pay Twitter’s Gnip subsidiary for access to the entire search access.  The prices for Gnip range anywhere from $300 to $50,000 a month.

Although most major publishers depend on enterprise analytics platforms to measure their social media progress, there are the smaller businesses that can’t afford the same luxury.

Fisher Fisher, the technical product manager for Cox Media Group, isn’t too worried about the change.  The share counts that are displayed isn’t a priority for the company newspaper, radio and TV websites.  Fisher said that they’re focusing more on other analytics, and not just Twitter share count.

“I think we’ve come so far past that in social,” he said. “It’s kind of known that that’s not the way. I would rather go by how many people are actually reading an article on or than sharing it. At the end of the day, we still rent social media and we own our O and Os

[Owned and Operated] so I would rather know the content that’s being read on our sites than live and die by what’s being shared on Twitter or liked or whatever.”

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