This article was published 15 years ago

It’s downhill for Twitter

Ever since Barack Obama and Britney Spears were the first notable people to sign up for Twitter, everyone has jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. It seems everyone has a Twitter. Almost every CNN anchor has one. Shaq has one. JetBlue and Comcast have one as well.

I’ve been using Twitter since 2006. Ask any early-Twitter adopter and they will tell you how painful the experience was.

The service was constantly failing and those that were in the tech industry, or those that wanted to be in the tech industry, were the only people that were using the service.

And it was great!

Now everyone is on Twitter. The service is clogged with useless comments like “I’m eating a sandwich” and no one seems to understand what the point of Twitter is.

I’m declaring that Twitter is dead!

It’s dead because of how popular the service has become. And when the service became popular, people are doing the some of the dumbest items on the service.

Instead of conducting an on-air interview with John McCain, ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos decided to squander his credibility as a journalist and conducted the interview with the senator on Twitter.

What Stephanopoulos did is a trend that all media outlets do to stay ahead of the competition, even if they have no clue what its does or if it fits within their needs. When a minor media outlet rolls out a feature – let’s say a podcast – major media outlets copy their lead. Even if the media outlets have no direct competition from each other, they have it do it. This is why every media outlet is now on Twitter. They don’t know what the service is, what the purpose of Twitter is nor if this is even important; they have to do it because everyone else is doing it. This is also known as the if-everyone-is-doing-we-must-do-it trend.

Unfortunately, it was a cheap gimmick that Stephanopoulos did and all of his political advancements during the Clinton Administration that got him a job at ABC News were burned to a crisp by 140 characters.

Another problem I have is how do we know it’s really the actual person that using Twitter. I do not believe that Senator McCain, or any senator in that matter, is actually using the service. You expect me to believe the former presidential candidate who said during the campaign that he doesn’t use email and never owned a computer is now on Twitter? Barack Obama’s Twitter account was not maintained by the former senator during the campaign, instead it was managed by a staffer.

The same goes to celebrities as well. Although you can tell it’s actually them using the service when there are misspellings and the sentences don’t connect when another person reads them.

Twitter is also becoming a place for people to boost their ego, gloat about how awesome the service is becoming or how many followers they have. Just listen the popular technology podcast This week in Tech. Three items appear, on it seems, every show: Leo Laporte complains about his followers are falling and that every Twitter account is beating him; almost every story involves Twitter; and everyone is constantly pimps their Twitter username, only for boosting their numbers.

This was a great podcast but now the show is slowly going downhill every since Twitter was created.

These are just mediocre items that won’t affect the popularity of Twitter. Spammers, no business model and explaining its main purpose will affect Twitter.

E-mail has taught us that when a service becomes popular, spammers will find loopholes and invade your account. Before Twitter became the norm, half of my followers were spammers. I would get three to five emails a day saying that:

jkh323342jhjh is following me

nbm2323nb is following me

mm32m is following me

You click on their accounts and they are following 2,000 people with one post, usually a link to a porn site or a get-rich quick scheme.

The company does acknowledge that spam is becoming a concern. When new notifications are received and accounts are check, the accounts are deleted.

The main concern people have for the service is their business model, which is none at the moment. The site has no ads; only the Japanese version does. Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, has stated that the company does have a business plan but no details were given as to what they are. Will they charge for business accounts or will they go the Jason Calacanis route and let businesses destroy the community by allowing their business to bid for a spot on the recommended people to follow when new users sign up?

No one knows what the main purpose of Twitter is. I’ve been using the service for two years and can’t explain the purpose of the service. When people ask me what I do on Twitter, they get the That’s it? What a stupid concept! look. I’m wonder how many One-time-Twitter accounts there are – those that sign up and never come back.

Now that journalists are conducting interviews, people complaining about how they were popular on the site and are not, no business model and can’t explain the real purpose of the service is making this community a wasted space.

And it was a great community, now it’s a cheap gimmick to promote one’s egos.