It wasn’t that long ago that I—and many other people I know—would have argued that Twitter was more than just another social network. I would have told you that Twitter was more like a utility, a service so fundamental that I could imagine a scenario in which it was literally underwritten. Twitter needed to exist. A stream of those hundred-and-forty-character tweets was how you found the most crucial, critical, and thought-provoking stories of the moment.
When bombs went off during the Boston Marathon, in April of 2013, users sat glued to the feed, suddenly privy to something visceral and real, something happening. And Twitter provided the view, an unedited, unscripted look into the world as it changed, through police-scanner blasts, eyewitness reports, and grainy citizen-journalist photography. It was raw, but it was streamlined.
But cracks in Twitter’s façade had been showing already. Changes to the product made it hard to follow conversations or narratives. A lack of rigor in verifying reliable sources made information suspect or confusing. More troubling was the growing wave of harassment and abuse that users of the service were dealing with—a quagmire epitomized by the roving flocks of hateful, misogynistic, and well-organized “Gamergate” communities that flooded people’s feeds with hate speech and threats. The company seemed to be wholly unprepared to handle mob violence, with few tools at its disposal to moderate or quell uprisings. Even its beloved celebrity users couldn’t be protected. In August of 2014, Robin Williams’s daughter, Zelda, was driven off the service after a series of vicious attacks.
Of course, getting noisy isn’t the only problem Twitter has today, though it seems to be one of the more pronounced symptoms of a company that has lost its direction, or, more worryingly (and perhaps more accurately), never had much direction to begin with. After a summer of turmoil and indecision—a summer spent largely rudderless after the resignation of the C.E.O., Dick Costolo—the company reappointed its co-founder, the Silicon Valley wunderkind Jack Dorsey, and signalled that, perhaps for the first time in a long time, Twitter could find its focus.
That focus would have to come fast. In the yearlong stretch leading up to Dorsey’s return, the number of active users on Twitter only grew by eleven per cent. Even more troubling was the service’s penetration in the U.S.: it remained completely flat for the first three quarters of 2015. Facebook has surpassed the company by orders of magnitude, but it’s hardly Twitter’s only foe. Instagram, WhatsApp, and even WeChat all now have more individual users than Twitter does. Snapchat has almost caught Twitter, too.
StevieRay Hansen the Shepherd, analyzing the news and the mainstream media, truth is the new hate speech, journalist are not journalist, their propaganda talking heads. As long as you want to be a part of the crowd, you will not understand the truth.
America is on the road to destruction and we are watching a nation ROT from the inside out.