That’s why Twitter is quietly pivoting
Umair Haque wrote a TL;DR piece that I started to read until I got to his conclusion, mostly agreed with it, and bookmarked it to read fully when I had the time.
So, what’s he right about?
- Twitter has devolved into grunting and snorting.
- The Block command has meant that we only have to listen to grunts and snorts we like. I, for example, block 2nd Amendment advocates as soon as they send me a 140-char lecture on How It Really Works. I’m not interested in the soundbite they stole from NRA talking points.
- A friend of mine pasted a paragraph from Fox News about how people in rural America don’t want to be told what to do by coastal city folk. I never for an instant thought of responding. I did think about deleting his comment, but instead deleted the post that gave him a place to hang that speech. This is a basically smart guy, who for some reason after 20-plus years of being an Internetizen hasn’t gotten arguing out of his system yet.
- The 140-char limit on Twitter and the inability to get rid of an offensive message in your Replies tab has made it particularly susceptible to the hit-and-run troll.
- Muting is a nice idea but it’s not retroactive, and it rarely works. I see messages from Muted people all the time. The only effective way to get someone to STFU is to block them.
- Anyway, all that is why Twitter is pivoting, quietly, to being a news system, which they should have done a long time ago. Haque is right, it’s an insane version of the town square, but what he doesn’t say is that it was unavoidable. We’ve been down this road before. Wherever communication is concentrated it devolves to this. It should be one of the fundamental laws of the Internet like Postel’s Law.
- The ability to post full news stories will give Twitter a refreshed mission that it’s already the best at, better than Facebook, better than the NY Times or Huffpost, because it aggregates all of them into approximately a river. I predict that eventually Twitter will look like mlbriver.com. Easy to scroll through. No movies, no flashing gifs, but they’re just a click away. Start with something general and give people the ability to add new sources (they won’t do it) or shut up ones they don’t like (they will do that).
- See checkbox news for a conceptual demo.