Google Buying Twitter? Depends Whom You Want to Believe

Google is in "late-stage negotiations" to acquire Twitter, a certain tech blog known for making much ado about rumors reported Thursday night. The story -- posted on TechCrunch under the headline "Sources: Google in Late-Stage Talks to Buy Twitter" -- has already stirred up a massive meme across the tech blogosphere. Before you get too tongue-tied with excitement, though, you might want to read this report by BoomTown's Kara Swisher.

"It isn't accurate in any way, according to a number of sources BoomTown spoke to close to the situation," Swisher writes.

Google-Twitter Talk

While the original story asserts with fairly firm authority that a deal is as good as done -- "We don't know the price but can assume it's well, well north of the $250 million valuation that [Twitter] saw in [its] recent funding," TechCrunch's Michael Arrington states -- Swisher tells a drastically different tale. In actuality, her report indicates, Google and Twitter have been holding only "product-related discussions" about search-related issues. "It was very preliminary ... and that was that," one of her sources says.

Twitter, you may recall, unveiled changes to its own internal search feature just a day ago with the announcement of its upcoming Twitter Discovery Engine.

Update: Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has posted a response to the rumors in which he reiterates that Twitter's goal is to "build a profitable, independent company."

Running the Rumor Mill

Swisher's story goes on to point out some past negotiation rumors propagated by TechCrunch (see: "Google In Final Negotiations To Acquire Digg For 'Around $200 Million,'" July 2008). It then notes Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's interview on "The Colbert Report" on Thursday, in which Stone describes Twitter as being on its way to becoming a "profitable, independent company." (Stone also, incidentally, discusses how his name sounds like it belongs to a character on "The Flintstones.")

I know, I know: Bloggers are entitled to break news as much as traditional journalists these days. But when push comes to shove and the two trades collide, my faith still falls with the veteran reporter. It's not the title that determines my trustworthiness -- heck, All Things Digital is itself described as a blog -- it's the writer's track record when it comes to things like journalistic integrity, thoroughness of reporting, and careful evaluation of sources. Whether information's given on The New York Times or on Timmy's Totally Terrific Tech Blog, that's what I'm ultimately going to consider.

But enough about me. Read the two reports and decide for yourself.

• TechCrunch: "Sources: Google In Talks To Acquire Twitter (Updated)"

• BoomTown: "Sorry to Get You All A-Twitter, But Google Is Not in 'Late-Stage Talks' to Acquire the Hot Microblogging Service"

Connect with JR Raphael on Twitter (@jr_raphael) or via his Web site, jrstart.com.

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