Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)
It’s early summer, and I’m in Dupont Circle. Something’s off. People, I notice, seem to be suddenly tweeting much less lately. But I’ve got a book to finish, so I file the observation away to carefully inspect later.
It’s late summer, and I’m standing in Madison Square, frowning. Something’s wrong. Twitter feels like a deserted bar…people seem to be leaving early, too hastily, unsatisfied, rolling their eyes. Maybe, I say to myself, everyone’s just on vacation.
It’s early fall, and I’m at my favorite cafe in London. What the? Twitter’s a cemetery. Populated by ghosts. I call them the “ists”. Journalists retweeting journalists…activists retweeting activists…economists retweeting economists…once in a while a great war breaks out between this group of “ists” and that…but the thing is: no one’s listening…because everyone elseseems to have left in a hurry.
What happened to Twitter? It’s a mystery, right?
To understand what really happened, let’s examine what didn’t. Competition. From the new startup du jour. They are marginal contributors at best to Twitter’s sudden decline for the simple reason that people do not use them enough to attribute said decline solely to them — and the larger reason that they are not substitutes for, but complements to, micro-messages.
Twitter’s troubles are due to something deeper yet simpler, so commonplace it has become invisible. It is, in a very real sense, a victim of its own blindness.
Here’s my tiny theory, in a word. Abuse. And further, I’m going to suggest in this short essay that abuse — not making money — is the great problem tech and media have. The problem of abuse is the greatest challenge the web faces today. It is greater than censorship, regulation, or (ugh) monetization. It is a problem of staggering magnitude and epic scale, and worse still, it is expensive: it is a problem that can’t be fixed with the cheap, simple fixes beloved by tech: patching up code, pushing out updates. READ IT HERE