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What if Twitter died?

Mark Tomkins
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The social media world has been in a state of flux since it was reported in Mashable (6th February 2016) that Twitter announced it would make some changes.

 

Changes to Twitter? Surely some mistake?

Sadly, no. It transpires that the bosses at Twitter HQ are reported to have announced a range of changes that, in the eyes of seemingly a huge swathe of its users, threaten its very reason for being.

So, what’s likely to change?

These changes include;

  • No character limit to tweets
  • An algorithm-based display of tweets rather than one based purely on chronology
  • A redesign

 

No more 144 characters

If we take the first, and we think, most impactful point, we can see why the users are up in arms. The whole reason for living, it’s main M-O and raison d’etre is to be pithy, punchy and keep the statement short, sweet and to the point. The change to make tweets unlimited in character length means that a user could easily fill up everyone’s screens with a lengthy and inappropriate for the medium) long story – rather than the bite-sized 144-character messages that gave it its infamy. Gone would be the intellectual approach to having to write a story that has a start, middle and end in just 144 characters.

It’s rumoured that this is as a result of pressure from the ‘corporate world’ (those who pay big money to sponsor) who wanted to be able to put out great long marketing messages that included more information. Yeah, right. What we think it means is that they (the big corporates) can’t be bothered to have to think cleverly about how to précis their usually long marketing diatribe down to something that still ticks all the corporate boxes and keep all the relevant departments happy.

What we don’t know is what the UI will look like and whether that will include some sort of visual excerpting to prevent a tweet being the entire screen length and its fully glory being access with a ubiquitous ‘read more’ link as Facebook have done. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

A rip in the space/time continuum

The next killer blow is that the user’s homescreen/timeline whatev’, will display tweets based on an algorithm and not displayed chronologically. This, too, flies in the face of Twitter’s ethos – Twitter was and has been historically all about the ‘now’ – an almost real-time narration of the world. But if you take that timeliness element away and display it based on an algorithm (with its measurement method yet to be announced), then you take away the thing it started out to be.

Online commentary by vocal Twitter users on this point has included:
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t copy Facebook’ ‘Twitter is going to change into Facebook’

and in its proprietary format;
#RIPTwitter

 

All we ever wanted was

Unlike Facebook users, who tend to moan about all aspects of its functionality, Twitter users have really only ever asked for one or two small things in terms of development;

    • The addition of an ‘edit’ button (for those sausage-finger moments)

and

  • to be able to delete multiple direct messages

 

Seemingly the entire Twittersphere exploded in a torrent of threats that, should Twitter change its basic ethos of limited character and of-the-moment posting ability, they would leave in their droves.

To quote a classic and original; #epicfail Twitter.

And actually, who can blame the users? To make the change to only please the corporates who want to just use Twitter as another platform from which to spew out thoughtless and free marketing guff at the cost of so many of its users seems suicidal.

So, although sad to say, are we witnessing the death of Twitter? We sincerely hope not. #longliveTwitter