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Wal-Mart Enters the Social Media Business

A Walmart store in Miami, Fla., pictured on Feb. 5, 2009
A Walmart store in Miami, Fla., pictured on Feb. 5, 2009

Walmart StoreWal-Mart sells you tires, groceries and, now, thanks to its recent acquisition of the Mountain View-based company Kosmix, Wal-Mart can tell you what’s trending on Twitter, India-West reports.

Kosmix, a social media website founded by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, brings two trend-tracking products to the retail giant.

TweetBeat is a social media tracker that provides real-time updates about trends on Twitter. (For instance, on Wednesday morning, the online world's interest in the Manchester United soccer match was up by 87 percent, while interest in Osama bin Laden’s demise was down by 4 percent.)

RightHealth aggregates popular health headlines from websites such as WebMD and ABC News.

Together, these online properties have attracted 17.5 million unique visitors who have spent 5.5 billion seconds on the sites, according to Rajaraman’s blog.

It's unclear exactly how these websites will fit into Wal-Mart’s mission of "everyday low prices," but the acquisition demonstrates the company’s interest in profiting from the popularity of social media and becoming a media producer itself.

“We are excited to have the Kosmix team join us to accelerate the development of our social and mobile commerce offerings,” Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Eduardo Castro-Wright wrote in a statement.

The Kosmix team will continue to work out of Silicon Valley.

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