Google has access to Twitter like everyone else, but the process of crawling the network for tweets is a painstaking one. But later this year, Twitter will make it easier for Google to show tweets in search results now that the two companies have reportedly patched up their relationship.
The agreement isn't official, but Bloomberg reported Wednesday evening that Google and Twitter are working on a deal that would let Google plug back into Twitter's firehose of data. The search engine had access to the stream from 2009 to 2011, but was cut off after Twitter began tightening access to its API. Twitter allows Bing and Yahoo access to the firehose, so it's not surprising that Google is being allowed back into the fold.
At some point during the first half of this year, tweets will become instantly visible in Google. Figuring out how to search Twitter when you're not an active user can be complicated, so the move makes it easier for people who don't use Twitter to stay in the loop.
But this isn't an altruistic agreement on the part of Twitter. The company has been struggling to grow beyond its static 284 million monthly active users, and is now instead pointing to the fact that its reach extends to people who look at tweets without being signed in to the service. Twitter estimates that more than 500 million people a month engage with the network in some way without being a user, and typically they come to Twitter via search results. Giving the world's largest search engine immediate access to tweets only helps Twitter expand its reach. We'll find out more about Twitter's plans when the company reports its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday.
Now that Twitter and Google are back together, I dream of a day when Instagram images once again show up in-line instead of as links. The odds of Twitter and Instagram parent company Facebook ever burying the hatchet are slim to none, but this dream will never die.