Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)
umair haque
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I have slowed my use of Twitter in recent years for many of the same reasons I have slowed (ok largely stopped) my blogging. I’m the parent of a toddler and working full time at a public company (which limits to a degree some of what I can say in public — but mostly just limits the time I have to participate in discourse). I have, however, been leaving more Facebook comments (and to a degree Medium responses) because both are lightweight — and make for easy lunchtime reading/posting.

But where I disagree is your contention that Twitter is a cesspool. I’m sure it is but mostly Twitter is a blackhole where the vast majority of the content posted even by folks you are following is never actually seen by any given user. I follow a lot of people on Twitter (and have a bit over 3000 followers) so I’m not an entirely typical user of Twitter — but neither am I a superuser. My friends who have tens of thousands or even millions of followers experience a vastly different experience than I do. For me when I do look at my Twitter feed it is almost always relevant — but the sheer volume of content posted means that I have long ago given up on monitoring it.

I think the failure of Twitter in recent years is not least because of their betrayals of trust by app developers which meant that they failed to become the underlying glue used by 100’s of different apps and instead focused on their own experiences and apps. Which meant that even as their network grew to include many different niches they were (and are) trying to shoehorn all of those users into a single primary experience (Twitter’s mobile apps first and website second with desktop apps or alternative mobile apps a very very distant third/fourth etc).

I would far rather customize my use of Twitter — for example there are some folks I follow whom I would prefer to see every single post from (I get this from a few select folks via how I have notifications set but I would like to have another group where I can see all of their posts in the app but without getting notifications about every post). But of late the updates to their app actually reduce how much I see that is timely and instead focus on stuff I have “missed” and emphasize media posts over content density. In the past though I didn’t have all the images and pretty pictures — Twitter was nearly unbeatable for breaking news and reactions/interactions around a live event (conferences, breaking news, “live” tv shows or other media events like say an Apple launch event).

But now they make it harder to get to the fresh new content by insisting you see what you have missed since your last login — and via filtering (but in a somewhat unclear manner) what you see in your primary feed from the folks you are following. Search terms/hashtags help — but suffer from the multitude of ways people posting about the same thing may differ in how they post about it (i.e. people may use different hashtags for the same interactions/events or people may not include the terms you search for though they are actually talking about the same thing).

This isn’t to disagree with your point that Abuse in social networks is a problem — but to note that Twitter has many other problems than just abuse. (and abuse is largely only an issue if you focus on search/hashtags or on responses to your post once your post has been shared or referenced beyond a small threshold — i.e. for most people the abuse comes not from their actual friends (or at least folks whom they mutually follow on Twitter) but rather either from followers (whom they don’t follow back) who have followed you because they plan on trolling (or at least disagreeing with you) or from more anonymous still accounts that see your posts via search/hashtags and post responses without actually being a follower (or being an account you follow). If your use of Twitter doesn’t include looking at searches or hashtag feeds or looking at a single post to which Twitter has shared with you whether you want them or not responses to that post then you don’t actually see much abuse unless you choose to follow spammers /trolls. This last method is the primary way I see spam/abuse posted on Twitter these days — why I rarely want to pull up a Tweet in Twitter’s mobile app).

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