Soon after November 20th 2015 the first murmurs were seen online of bloggers and webmasters querying the disappearance of their Twitter count on individual pages.
Instead of being able to see the number of times a page had been tweeted and thus shared they were left with a count of 0.
Some people had been aware of the impending change but for most it had slipped under the radar.
So why did it go?
Twitter have removed the counter declaring that they were “simplifying the Tweet button by removing the share counter displayed alongside the button”.
They also offered up an unlikely technical response that had people calling them out as liars.
Will it be brought back? The short answer is no, at least not in it’s previous free form.
The decision is likely a monetary one as the publically traded Twitter look to claw back their lost share value, having seen a 29% drop in 2015 alone. Part of their problem is the need to post better financial results, so Twitter will look to monetise the access to social stats by forcing everyone to use a Social Metrics company they recently acquired named Gnip.
So how much will I have to pay to get my counter back? Somewhat conveniently for Twitter, Gnip is the only service you can officially use and the pricing is dependant upon the client. Prices from $300 - $50.000 have been quoted causing an uproar online. Even then the counter in it’s previous form is not available.
What are the implications?
How does this impact everybody? For the average blogger the costly service offered by Gnip is out of reach. In fact most small to medium-sized businesses will find the cost prohibitive. The justification for paying large sums just to display the number of times a story or a page has been shared is simply not there.
Larger companies may be able to justify that cost and it is likely those that Gnip (and ultimately Twitter) will be benefiting from and targeting.
There are some workarounds appearing but none that offer the simple social signal of the old share count.
Developers that rely on the share count as a part of any social media plugin have also once again be disregarded by Twitter, leaving many loathe to implement workarounds that will most likely be blocked off by Twitter as and when they are discovered.
The Twitter share count as we know it looks a thing of the past.
So what does the future hold?
We’ll just have to wait and see.
It is unlikely any of the other big social networks will follow suit and Twitter, for now, have a lot of eyes on them waiting for their next move.