Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo [said](http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2011/02/twitter-goal-to-be-like-water.php) he wants the service to become as ubiquitous and simple as tap water. But he should be careful what he wishes for.
Search Engine Land is already asking, “[Twitter As Utility, Like Running Water?](http://searchengineland.com/twitter-as-utility-like-running-water-thats-goal-says-ceo-64803)” The thing about water is that it tends to be an indispensable natural monopoly, and therefore regulated. Twitter today controls [access to its “firehose”](http://networkeffect.allthingsd.com/20110202/twitter-offers-metered-pricing-for-firehose-of-tweets/) of tweet data, but access to utilities like water is mandated open and prices are set by regulators.
As I discussed [recently on the podcast](http://surprisinglyfree.com/2010/08/30/danny-sullivan-on-search-neutrality/) with Danny Sullivan, some have already suggested Google should be treated like a utility and brought under a regime of “search neutrality.” Harvard’s danah boyd has been banging the “[regulate Facebook as a utility](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/05/15/facebook-is-a-utility-utilities-get-regulated.html)” drum for quite some time. And Just today Wharton’s Kevin Werbach put out a draft of his new law review article: “[The Network Utility](http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1758878).”
Of course, as I already mentioned, it’s unsurmountable monopolies that should be regulated, and it would be a stretch to say that either Facebook or Twitter qualify. But I fear we’ll be hearing more and more of this “utility” language in the near future.