According to Twitter it is not! Oh really? Earlier this month, Kevin Thau, Twitter's Vice President of business and corporate development made the distinction during a presentation at Nokia World 2010. According to Thau, Twitter is not a social network. It's for news, content and information.
Thau argues that Twitter is a news network and not a social network and is in fact transforming the news business ("transforming" is now a synonym for "destroying" I guess).
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, you know the rest...
Let's talk about that "not a social network" part, first.
Here are some definitions of "social network"
"Any web site designedtoallowmultipleuserstopublishcontentthemselves.Theinformationmaybeonanysubjectandmaybeforconsumptionby(potential)friends,mates,employers,employees,etc.Thesitestypicallyallowuserstocreatea"profile"describingthemselvesandtoexchangepublicorprivatemessagesandlistotherusersorgroupstheyareconnectedtoinsomeway.Theremaybeeditorialcontentorthesitemaybeentirelyuser-driven."
Site typically allows users to create a profile - check!
There may be editorial content or it may be entirely user-driven - check!
Established to allow end users to communicate directly with each other on topics of mutual interest - check!
And check mate!
I don't know how Twitter could deny it's a social network, with a straight face at least. More interesting to me; why are they doing it at all? Could it have something to do with distancing itself from Facebook and the new movie called "The Social Network" coming out in the near future?