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Why Twitter Must Be Saved (stratechery.com)
274 points by doener on Nov 8, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 158 comments

People have a rose-tinted view of Twitter.

And yet it is Twitter that has reaffirmed itself as the most powerful antidote to Facebook’s algorithm: misinformation certainly spreads via a tweet, but truth follows unusually quickly; thanks to the power of retweets and quoted tweets, both are far more inescapable than they are on Facebook.

What is the evidence of this? Even if "truth" follows misinformation on Twitter, there's so much noise, how do you find it?

that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty,

Twitter isn't public discussion, unless you consider the following examples of discussion:

Every time I speak of the haters and losers I do so with great love and affection. They cannot help the fact that they were born fucked up! - Trump

Delete your account. - Clinton


Don't tell me that Twitter is a vital part of discussion when public discussion has gotten worse over the past 9 years. This is a long blog post and only the last few paragraphs even begin to touch on "why Twitter must be saved", but there's not arguments beyond the sentimental.

Twitter has existed for less than a decade and society got along just fine without it. It's not as important as people think it is. The author is also absolutely wrong if they believe that Twitter isn't censored similarly to FB.

It's not just wide public discussion, when there's some large local event(weather, tornado, etc) I usually find the most up to date and accurate information on twitter 2-3 hours before any news site.

It's the CB radio of social media and I find huge value in that.

> It's the CB radio of social media

Amazing analogy, far better than any other metaphor I've previously heard applied to Twitter

4chan/8chan. If there's a "HAPPENING", it will be posted there faster than the news stations can keep up.

Does it function better for you than a google search or a news.google.com search?

Yes, much better. All it takes is someone and their phone.

Take for instance the recent tornado we had off the Oregon coast. I had video/pictures/reports showing up even ahead of the local NOAA site or google news.

Similar, there was a fire around my office a week ago and within minutes there were an image on twitter. Within 30 minutes multiple ones from various angles.

Granted, it was the first time I ever went to Twitter for something like this, but I knew that it was /the/ place for the most up to date information.

And I try to avoid Twitter as much as possible, too annoying to read in there.

Severe weather (tornadoes) is also the most important benefit I get from Twitter.

Generally speaking, it's great for aggregating witness accounts of a real-time event that's going on.

how is news.google "social media" in any way?

It isn't.

The person you replied to was responding to the idea that Twitter is a good source of news.

It's the CB radio of social media and I find huge value in that.

We had that. It's called Usenet and IRC.

If be "we" you mean a few highly invested tech people.

Only to the same extent that CB was the exclusive preserve of truckers.

Look up "eternal September" if you want to understand the demographic of Usenet...

I know about the Eternal September, but I believe that the AOL users that "swarmed" the network were more technically apt than the generic Twitter user and also were way fewer.

The skill (and motivation) gap between using something like IRC and Twitter is massive.

I don't know anyone besides "highly invested tech (and media) people" that uses Twitter, so...

Usenet, IRC, Twitter, neither is really important for anyone besides are rather limited subsection of the general population.

When CNN puts up a lower third scroll of Twitter commentary, do you think all those people are tech enthusiasts and media wonks?

You might not know people personally, but certainly you're aware of Twitter's role in the Arab Spring. And you've heard of Black Twitter, right?

For some meaning of "limited subsection of the general population".

I had 12000 followers for a twitter account about a specific football club - a specific subsection but not a technical or media one.

I used to randomly look at my followers and while many were "highly invested tech and media people" - the majority were just people who wanted to stay up to date (in particular I used to live-tweet during games which lots of people really enjoyed).

That was a few years ago though - personally I rarely use Twitter any more.

Most of the people I follow aren't "highly invested tech (and media) people", just normal people who happen to use Twitter to connect with others.

Twitter is absolutely essential if you prefer to get your information unfiltered from the source. Yes, that means that there's much more noise and you have to work hard to keep your stream info-dense and free from your own biases. But any other source will have someone else's biases and spin, an extra layer of fog that you have to work through.

Nothing about Twitter is essential and Twitter is highly filtered. Twitter actively censors opinions and trends it doesn't like. Over the summer, #DNCLeaks trended hard, only to get removed and replaced by a typoed tag that killed its discussion and momentum. The same thing happens, or trending tags get outright removed, time and again with topics related to recent Wikileaks. This censorship happens far too frequently to certain topics to be "glitches" and it always "coincidentally" favors Twitter's political worldview.

Twitter also very selectively enforces rules about what it judges as hate speech and abuse. Certain people can repeatedly tweet "kill all police", or advocate jihad, or advocate violence towards those who support a particular political candidate, but the moment anyone does even a fraction of the same towards any group that Twitter is in bed with, that person gets shadow banned or permabanned. Note: I'm not advocating hate speech, merely pointing out that Twitter allows it more often than not when it aligns with their politics.

Twitter had a chance to be a platform for open discussion, but its brownshirt employees chose to make it a censorship shithole. Never-turned-a-profit Twitter can go fuck itself – it's not essential and highly filtered.

Where do you get your news?

Have you seen who is on Twitters "Trust and Safety Council?"

Last time it was only left wing extremists...

Disclaimer: I'm in the worst spot, since I'm right in the centre, so both leftists and rightists can hate on me all day

That's not an answer. Do you prefer to avoid news, or do you go through some other filter? Or do you just pace the world watching the news in realtime?

I thought about your comment, and I can tentatively agree with your premise. Twitter is certainly the most used way to disseminate information straight from the source.

The problem is, that is not Twitter(the company)'s goal. For the last several years, their main focus, through user complaints, has been to limit the unfettered flow of information, to produce curated feeds, etc. This is quickly converging with Facebook functionality. A recent major development (from outside Twitter itself) has been the introduction of blocklists, directly contradicting the author's utopia of "incorrect tweet followed by a correction". Meanwhile, Twitter has been introducing similar features for "celebrity" accounts.

Given that the article's stated reason for saving Twitter does not align with the company's goals, the only way to save it would be to get rid of the company currently managing it. However, I don't see any other company actually looking to maintain the model described in the article. News sites are shutting down comments sections, removing the possibility of corrections. College campuses, normally a bastion of open debate and conversation, are looking more and more into punishing "hateful" speech and creating "safe spaces". Social media is heavily invested into curation.

The article states "Twitter must be saved". By who? Even Twitter itself does not want Twitter to remain the way the article writer envisions it, and the other major actors are tripping over themselves to go faster than in the opposite direction.

There are in fact places dedicated to disseminating information with as little filter as possible, unlike Twitter. Off the top of my head, I can think of liveleak and 4chan. Neither of them is extremely popular, and 4chan has an awful reputation. I'm surprised that the author is not extending their support to them, instead of trying to support a company that is actively trying to run away from his vision.

The ADL is on that list, as are the Samaritans. Not the kind of people typically running around with Che t-shirts.


After a cursory glance (it's a long list) I don't think any of the organisations strike me as particularly left wing, certainly not in the traditional economic sense.


I go here: http://www.memeorandum.com/ I filter out the extreme views and pick and chose the sources that I trust, but take a hefty dose of skepticsm with me when I visit any of the articles.

If you prefer information from the source, wouldn't you prefer to actually get it direct from the source and not via twitter?

> wouldn't you prefer to actually get it direct from the source and not via twitter?

Unless you can meet the source in person every time you need a medium to get information, and Twitter serves that purpose.

Is it absolutely essential that the medium be twitter?

It's absolutely essential that the medium of public communication not be controlled by a small group of people.

Twitter doesn't meet that standard.

No, but we currently do not know of/have any other medium that serves that particular niche purpose.

Goodness, what did we ever do before Twitter?

I don't think anyone in this subthread is suggesting Twitter can't be replaced (some are actually just arguing that it's the only current way to get direct, first-hand information about current events). What are you adding to the conversation here?

What did we actually do before Twitter? There was a shooting at my university's library late at night a few years back and I only found out about it because of Twitter. I know about 50 people that were actually physically in the library at the time and a handful of them were live-tweeting. I not only knew what was going on, and that they were safe, I was warned not to go about 200m south at the moment (which happened to be the plan, the bar my SO and I were going to was on the opposite side of campus).

When I looked the next morning, there was one (1) article about it on a local website and nothing in national or regional media. Later that afternoon a ton of info came out and hit the media, but until then, there really wasn't anything. That showed me the power of Twitter (however stupid and cliche I sound saying that [look typing?]).

Just because something isn't necessary to survive as a human being, or to allow society to function properly, doesn't mean it shouldn't be fought for (again, not necessarily saying Twitter as a company, but the idea of a social network that allows for immediate sharing of ideas and news) or at the very least appreciated.

Do you not see the utility or are you just being a cynic?

We went whole hours without receiving our critical stream of data. Frankly I'm amazed that we survived those dark days as a species.

No but Twitter is already there, is unprecedented and it works.

Twitter is a great medium for it, since it's public by default.

It's the easiest way for a random person to hold their own press conference. People can easily ask short questions, and get short answers. All from their phone

>Twitter serves that purpose

The Internet serves that purpose. You don't need Twitter, there's a ton of other ways to get news directly from the source. If you're arguing that "Twitter makes it visible", then yes, if you follow the right people or other share you interests, but in that case even Facebook would work.

I can't walk across the world in the time it takes me to open twitter.

Yes, Twitter is "absolutely essential" for getting information "from the source", and literally "any other source will have someone else's biases and spin". You've convinced me to stop reading research papers and complete my bioinfomatics education by reading Twitter. Thank you for opening my eyes!

By definition, isn't it impossible to be free from your own biases?

By the definition of what? "Bias", "own bias", or "human"?

I don't know about "human", but being "biased" is something like "consistently straying from the truth in spite of available information", but there's nothing right there that says that everyone must be biased. In so far as someone is biased, they cannot be free from their "own biases" only in the same sense that I cannot think anyone's thoughts but my own. Still, nothing stops them from trying to improve.

Now, if you mean that we cannot avoid living in some particular information bubble, that's not a bias (at least in the psychological sense). That's an issue of incomplete information.

i always imagine'd you could get infinitely close to being free from your own biases, but never fully get there.

of course, thats my biased opinion.

The way you framed those two quotations is misleading to say the least. Clinton did not make that Tweet as a reply to Trump's tweet, his was from 2014, and hers was from 2016.

So, your statement, "Twitter isn't public discussion, unless you consider the following examples of discussion:", does not follow. You also say that "unless you consider" the aforementioned quotations to be public discussion, you therefore can not possibly view Twitter as a tool for public discussion, which is a false dilemma.

I agree with your last line though about Twitter being censored in a similar fashion to Facebook.

>> Twitter isn't censored similarly to FB.

All you have to do to confirm this is to visit their homepage and see all the left wing political ideology on it day in and day out.

I haven't seen anything on the Clinton email saga that has dragged on for months now and not a peep on the home page about the rising costs of the ACA premiums. Nope, just love and happiness about having the first female president. Besides that, it was a constant stream of Trump hit pieces from traditional Liberal newspapers and media outlets. It's like they didn't even try to be objective.

If you want to make your platform about public discussion, then maybe you aught to give a slightly more balanced view then the completely slanted, partisan garbage you post on your homepage. It might just give the appearance that you see things in a slightly more objective light.

The author must not be familiar with shadowbanning: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/151981022076/is-twitter-shadowb...

Good argument. A counter example is wikileaks this election cycle. They would not have had a platform if it were not for Twitter. Lots of great discussion was enabled because of the Twitter platform. I don't think people would have organically gone to their website.

I think this is one of those examples where the platforms people use colour their opinion. From where I'm sitting Twitter and WikiLeaks aren't in anyway related. The Wikileaks stuff was all over the tech news sites, and more than anything: Reddit.

That's not to say that Twitter was useful for wikileaks, but I don't believe that it was instrumental.

Some of the wikileaks stuff was dynamite. E.g., the DNC deliberately undermined Bernie Sanders' campaign! Lots of different media outlets covered it and would have done so if they had to get that content via fax and carrier pigeon. Most people consumed that second-hand, so there was no need to drive traffic to wikileaks itself.

I thought CNN & Donna Brazile's cheating scandal of leaking questions to Clinton Campaign was the biggest dynamite as the other corruption surrounding the Clinton foundation was more or less taken for granted.

I knew a serial entrepreneur (three paydirt IPOs and still going) whose formula for building basic infrastructure was this:

1. Find some capital to fund it

2. Build it

3. Attempt to sell services across it

4. The prices will be set to recoup investment + return. These prices will be too high for the market.

5. Go bust

6. Get bought for a song

7. New owner sells services at market-friendly rates.

It merely remains to find VCs to sucker into step (1). More than one internet backbone got built this way.

I leave unanswered the question of whether Twitter can be treated as infrastructure, and in particular do not mean to suggest their investors are this naive.

I think the intercontinental rail system in the US was built the same way too.

And the UK-France Channel Tunnel - which didn't go bankrupt but did have a significant financial "restructuring" along the way.

>It merely remains to find VCs to sucker into step (1). More than one internet backbone got built this way.

This is pretty common in private capital-heavy ventures. From the early railroads in the UK, to canals in the US, to the Chunnel. It's the second owner that makes money.

And fiber bandwidth...and Motorola Iridium...etc.

"Go bust + Get bought for a song" != "paydirt IPO"

Something fishy in your story here.

Twitter's IPO made lots for its managers. They ran a circus. Now it's going bust.

>"More than one internet backbone got built this way"

Can you elaborate? Which ones?

What does a "paydirt" IPO mean?

Slang term for "profit" (a reference to digging in the dirt and finding oil or ores)


This article is a criticism of Facebook, not a defense of Twitter. The idea that Twitter, by virtue of not being Facebook, is a public square fit for deliberation of ideas that are key to the health of democracy is fairly absurd. Tweets are just about as imperfect a medium for dialogue as any that has existed in the time of the internet. Both Twitter and Facebook in their current states are fatally flawed as public forums. Let's at least acknowledge that before exploring solutions.

Twitter as a network and format is replaceable and replicatable, Just let it crash and burn. From the ashes can rise a new and better Twitter-like service. The current Twitter carries too much nostalgia, undecisivenes and other toxic dead weight to change course.

They're gonna have to have a solution for harassment out of the gate, otherwise they'll suffer the same fate.

They're gonna have to have safe spaces and unashamedly be an echo-chamber out of the gate, otherwise they'll suffer the same fate.


No, you didn't. You completely ignored one of the reasons why Twitter is tanking. Tell me, why would I want to use Twitter 2 if every time I make a post I have a dozen people calling for my family to be raped and murdered?

> ...if every time I make a post I have a dozen people calling for my family to be raped and murdered

Try using it for a month and make the same argument.

I have posted ~5000 tweets in the last couple of years. I can guarantee you that neither me nor my family ever got threatened with rape and murder.

This is an issue, but those affected are exceptions, not the rule.

No. You just handwaved away the experiences of thousands of users. You said that because YOU don't have a problem, that there isn't one. That is not an answer.

Again, thousands of users out of 313 million active users is an exception, not a rule. And I'm in the majority here, not a minority.

I have never said it is not a problem. In fact, I indicated that it is. But it is a problem that affects a minority of Twitter's users. Are they doing enough about it? No. Can they stop it completely? No. Are you able to claim that this is something that happens to everyone? No. Hence why you're getting downvoted.

>The payoff, though, is the capability of spreading information more widely and more quickly than has ever before been possible; the societal benefit is an externality that needs to be preserved.

So let it die and use GNU Social [0]. Non-techies don't need to know how to run their own instance and join the federation, but they gain all the benefits of Twitter, better control of their own data, and don't need to rely on a company known for censoring views it dislikes.

"Social" can move. See the migration from Digg to Reddit or MySpace to Facebook. Twitter to GNU Social would be grand. ;)

[0] https://gnu.io/social/

The nicest part of GNU Social is its federation. It means unlike all the nonstop complaints about 140 character limits or Twitter not using / using too much Bootstrap design sense, anyone can have their own federated server with easily resolvable names like email.

So rather than having to raise alarmist blog posts about "saving twitter", any one GNU Social service can go down and the rest will keep on working fine without them. You can finally have a competitive market of social networks - in the same way all cars have the same gas nozzles and take the same oil, its time for all the social media message transports to standardize on an open protocol, the same way instant messaging needs to standardize on Matrix.

Posting one's own status via gnu social (or mastodon) + IM/chat via matrix.org = awesomely decentralized future success!

I think next steps would be for a nice, neat little deployment/installation package for many users (ok, not all non-tech users at first) to be used on one's own website (to have one's own online presence). But even cooler; if all/most news websites/platforms would begin to standardize use of gnu social, then they would win a little more authority (away from silos like twitter). And, it would allow the news sites to "own their own content"...And it would be decentralized to help avoiding putting all eggs in one private company's basket.

Either way, I'm with you!

Not that I like GNU social (get all my news from twitter) but why the down votes? It is a legitimate idea and project, and he gives examples of similar undertakings.

Also pointing out existing alternatives which can work without some single big for profit company behind is a very valid counter argument to a claim that Twitter has to be saved.

Have you ever tried it? It's not very good.

Like, yes, it's workable and usable. It's okay. But the user experience is absolutely awful, especially on mobile.

Maybe if HN started its own GNU Social server and started using it, we'd see some interesting stuff happen.

> Like, yes, it's workable and usable. It's okay. But the user experience is absolutely awful

Sure it needs a bit more love on the UI side but it's not that bad. The Twitter Website is btw. not that great, too.

> especially on mobile.

I use Twidere [1] for both Twitter and GS, works well.

[1] https://github.com/mariotaku/twidere

As another angle, the name 'GNU Social' has all the catchiness and sparkle of a corporate quarterly accounts report. I can't see non-techies getting excited by it.

As a fan of decentralized, distributed, and federated messaging protocols (such as but not limited to gnu social), I do agree that the name is not ideal for non-techies...But i guess it could be worse...bad examples off the top of my head:

  * Gnu Comrade-gram   
  * Gnu IMeer (like rocketeer, but also not coincidentally sounds like "I am here")  
  * Gnu FreeMess (as in "free messaging"...no not free in beer, but free as in liberty, because it allows for...doh, nevermind!)  
  * Gnu LibPost  
  * Gnu SocMe (short for social media)  
I'm sure there could be even worse names with more time. :-)

I'm working on something like that:


(have not launched yet)

It will be something like a mix of twitter and reddit, but open source, decentralized, and GNU Social compatible.

I currently use gnu social for social posts (only for private family instance for now as a personal beta). And also use matrix.org for IM/chat (also for private family beta). I'm very happy with both. But if you can get your platform to continue to speak "gnu social" AND speak "matrix.org" for chat, I think you would hit a really sweet spot for numerous HN-centric demographics...at least for HN-type users...then make software dead easy to install, and civilian users will follow.

I signed up for your newsletter...no pressure, but I (and many others!) really hope you succeed! :-)

Just subscribed to your newsletter. Impress me.

AndStatus [http://andstatus.org] is pretty lightweight, and is both a twitter and gnu social mobile client, rolled into one. While my usage is for my own, private (very small scale/family) gnu social server, so far its pretty good.

PHP. No.

What do I tell my parents to do to join GNU Social, and what do I tell them they should use it for once they do? For instance, here is what I would say for Facebook: "You can join Facebook by going to www.facebook.com, entering some information and clicking the 'Sign Up' button. Then you can search for your friends and family and send them messages and see pictures and articles that they post." I never really had a good answer for the second question in the case of Twitter, and I don't actually have a good answer for either question in the case of GNU Social.

This is a challenge no doubt.

Think back to the earlier email days...there was no central search for "discovering" others' email addresses. Nor was it easy to "host one's own email"; at least not without some time, effort, and tech elbow grease. I believe this sort of thing starts slow; for example, people share their emails at live get-togethers, and introduce other parties virtually via email, etc. I suppose this could help with decentralized social networks like gnu social...and then there are popular instances of gnu social, such as https://quitter.no

And, who knows...maybe for parents, family, or less-tech-savy, less adventurous users, they don';t hop onto this decentralized stuff at first...We leave it only for us...at least for now; to get all the kinks out. Then, later when software is easier to incorporate, install, use, etc., the regular users/masses will follow. As i noted above, they might typically join bigger/established servers, but could still connect with you. I've drastically and optimistically over-simplifying of course. But i think its possible. Hey computers were once considered the domain of geeks only, and now look how many people use them throughout the world. ;-)

>I never really had a good answer for the second question in the case of Twitter, and I don't actually have a good answer for either question in the case of GNU Social.

A good number of them have a very minimal simple sign up form: Display Name, Email, Password.

As for finding friends/family, that isn't really the point of Twitter I feel? That's what Facebook is for. Twitter is more of a news aggregate or social/niche center. For example, I can follow all my favorite Cosplayers and major ___-con hosts to get updates on Cons and Cosplay. If you had family into racing or cars, they could follow their favorite racers or car enthusiasts, etc.

If you want to keep "up to date" for your interests, Twitter is fantastic for that by following leaders or major players in the industry/niche.

Which yes, is something GNU Social lacks and I admit that. But Twitter isn't required to fill that role. It just requires people to move to the better option.

GNU social is not for your parents. The groups that need to adopt and host their own GNU social/OStatus services are organizations and institutions.

This. There's nothing special about Twitter.

Twitter's not going to go under. It just won't grow to FB/GOOG/AMZN/MSFT size (at least not under their current strategy), and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I mean, how could it possibly grow into a Google type of company? it's product is just not that valuable. it could disappear tomorrow and nobody would have to change their plans for the day.

> it could disappear tomorrow and nobody would have to change their plans for the day.

Unless you're in an industry that depends on it for PR, like entertainment.

I have a twitter account that follows 9-10 theatres (and only those) in my city created so that I could follow the newest shows and stuff, but all I got was repetitive broadcasting of the same stuff multiple times a day by all the accounts I follow, so overwhelmingly many times that the actual new stuff that I was looking for got buried somewhere in the useless flux of yesterday's news. And overall most entertainment sources on Twitter behive similarly. I just follow the RSS feeds of local theatre magazines nowadays, it's easier, period. Finding info on twitter is a needle-haystack situation and unfortunately I'm incapable of making a binary search as a human.

It doesn't depend on it, they'd move straight over to Insta or whatever by the afternoon. It honestly makes no difference.

I've actually worked on these sort of campaigns, you never just rely on a single platform and pray for traction.

Nobody looks for conversations on Instagram.

does any industry really depend on it? Even if you're in the entertainment industry, if Twitter disappeared you would still just go on using every other form of media that's around. TV, radio, magazines, websites, etc. There is nothing special or indispensable about Twitter. It's a totally replaceable product. In fact, it can even be replaced with nothing at all. Nobody needs it.

The problem with wild success but not insanely wild success is investors that were promised insanely wild feel cheated.

I don't know many people who are actually concerned about that. Sounds like complaining about a win-win situation.

More to the point: investors with irrational expectations are not the kind of investors who deserve to have their expectations met.

I wish we'd consider a multi-billion dollars company as "a wild success".

There isn't some natural law that states "Twitter is with $12bn." It'a valued as such in expectation of future profits. Massive future profits. If it can't sustainably materialise those profits, it loses its valuation (and some of its investors lose their shirts).

Is it really a multi-billion dollars company, though? Twitter has never made money, and it's not clear they ever will make money. A company that can't make money isn't worth more than its assets minus debt.

They have multi billions in revenue. That definitely qualify it as a multi-billion dollars company.

Why do I care about them? They still most likely made more money than I'll see in my lifetime for not doing anything other than having money.

"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

It is for share holders.

Profitable companies aren't bad for shareholders.

Hype > profits if you're trying to find the next sucker to sell your shares to. Especially for companies that don't pay dividends.

> Profitable companies aren't bad for shareholders

They are if the profits were greatly overestimated. Paying a billion for a dollar of profits isn't smart. Not to mention, Twitter isn't profitable. (They lose half a billion dollars a year.)

About a month ago I said I'd find Twitter a possibly reasonable buy at a third its current valuation [1]. To make that work, a lot would need to change. And Twitter's current investors would surely lose.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12710784

I'd argue Twitter is being saved from itself right now. Hard to say what will emerge out of this but twitter has not been on the right path ever since it killed its developer program and closed its API. Twitter badly needed this shakeup.

I find the whole Twitter thing kinda strange. If Twitter had kept this sort of API the comments now probably would just be "of course they are losing money, how did they expect to monetize that API"

> "of course they are losing money, how did they expect to monetize that API"

By selling posting increased posting quotas to news organisations?

Extra integrations (webhooks etc) to companies?

I think that would definitely work some but I'm sceptical there are enough companies that will pay. My personal opinion is that they would run into the same problem they are having now, they are making money but just not nearly enough of it.


I'd say they make enough money to keep twitter running, just not as much as shareholders hoped.

Twitter must not be saved. If its gone, other services more efficient (probably) replace it, how facebook replace myspace and other services.

Regarding Facebook. Monstrous, centralized entity which knows everything about everyone? That's an anti-utopian example, not utopian one.

I'd prefer something like diaspora* to gain more traction. Open, decentralized social network without pointless limitations on post length.

Having played around with diaspora* (awful name), I don't think it can replace Facebook, unfortunately. Like Twitter it doesn't rely on people's real names nor are there good options for chat or making private or public groups or events. However, it could potentially be a good replacement for twitter. We need a good decentralized social network that has good design all around, code, gui, ux etc. which is hard to find atm. Ello is also quite nice, but not free, open and decentralized as diaspora which is a deal breaker for me when discussing new social media services.

Btw, could anyone enlighten me on why jabber (xmmp?) never took off in any major way? It seems nice?

diaspora* doesn't prevent you from using real names, as well as it doesn't force you to use them. That's exactly the point!

XMPP was sabotaged by major IM participants not using it. Especially Google. They first were pushing XMPP a lot, but later betrayed the whole effort.

Yes I like that you can choose whatever name you want, but ask your family members or old friends from school how they use Facebook. Being enable to find old friends and connect with far relatives is a huge reason for why Facebook is so popular. I am having a hard time time figuring out how to solve this problem if there aren't any constraints, culture or expectations for using real names. Maybe it's just a matter if time. Online aliases is more second nature to the coming generations. And still, the group and chat thing is very important imho. That's why I asked about XMPP. Would love if we could get a modern chat system as widely and universally used as email.

Thing is, people who want to be found will use their real or well-known names. Those who don't, won't - no matter what rules a given service wants to impose.

diaspora* has built-in XMPP chat for quite a while already. Groups are in demand indeed, so it's something developers are considering.

> Like Twitter it doesn't rely on people's real names

This is actually an advantage. Example: HN

Someone with nearly 30K followers would feel this way.

Can't say I see that much that needs saving as an average user of the service. I'd actually rather it crumble and see what someone more competent can do in the space.

This is contemptible garbage. The author implies engineers do not improve the world, but he is not about to go without cars or washing machines or credit. This current election was going to be difficult even for a moderate Republican to win, but this guy got emotional over the coverage therefore it was poignant to him and relevant to his argument. Twitter has so little to contribute that much of what he says is an apology for the unavoidable abuse that saturates the medium. This kind of article is why so little is lost in flushing traditional journalism down the toilet.

> This kind of article is why so little is lost in flushing traditional journalism down the toilet.

This seems like a non-sequitur. What does this article have to do with traditional journalism?

>What is the evidence of this? Even if "truth" follows misinformation on Twitter, there's so much noise, how do you find it?

Do you use twitter? I see a lot of misinformation and rumors started by "journalists" which gain a lot of popularity but seemingly disapear once the true source confirms or denies said claims. And it is easy to navigate this on twitter. I'm mainly talking about sports or entertainment news.

With other forms of media the turnaround time is no where near as fast to (1) notify the source and (2) have the original poster edit their article.

Don't worry, even if Twitter die, there will be another better product to take over.

People in general are prone to looking for messianic saviors. I think it is wired into the generic brain circuitry. Good things in general require consistent hard work and effort and just general humanity.

Neither twitter nor facebook embody any of those things. Both are machines for turning clicks peppered by "original content" into money. The author should look elsewhere for the messiah.

Saudi Money assured it's destruction - Twitter will die and become the "AOL Keyword" of the twenty-tens.

I still do use RSS and it works well for me.

Indeed. Feedly does a nice job of presenting rss items. I actually feel lucky that websites are still using rss.

I believe that this has more has to do with it being built into almost all CMS's than it being a conscious decision.

I remember creating a couple of years back a simple script where you input a subdomain or a top level domain and it would try loading the most common feed locations (like /rss, /feed etc.) and returns the location of the feed if it gets 200 as a response. All I had to do was to check for like 10 different locations (think: one or two for every major CMS) and it worked in like 98% of the time.

Yep, it's so simple yet too complicated for twitter evangelists like the OP.Also big tech companies try to push people into their walled gardens since data is wealth and they don't want to share it. In the end I believe open tech will prevail.

> The tech industry is now producing its own magnates, who are following the Rockefeller playbook. See Mark Zuckerberg giving $100 million to the Newark school district, or Chris Hughes buying the New Republic

It might be worth noting that both were notorious as abject failures.

I tried reading the replies to a post on Twitter recently. It was a medium-long list. The UI was atrocious, unstable and plain inferior to putting plain text on an empty page. It's just frustrating. What are they on?

One thing I find really great about twitter as a platform is the data they have available from devs/users who check in their oauth keys on public repos which one can use to get very accurate detailed information from accounts and tweets/retweets like getting the gps coords/conducting sentiment/graph analysis without being rate limited or having to sign onto any of their terms coupled with the "public" nature of twitter which just isn't there anymore with facebook.

That's great, but if Twitter can't pay it's own way, then bin it.

The argument hasn't really been strongly focused on whether or not Twitter is useful (it's not useful for me, but YMMV). The major problem has been "How does Twitter make money to stay in business?"

You can't ask investors to keep tossing money down the Tweet-hole without getting something for their money.

Tonight is not the night to apologize for this sewer.

There's nothing new, or inherently tech about any of this. It started long before the Internet was widespread. I recommend the author reads "Flat Earth News" by Nick Davies.

A-thing-like-Twitter must be saved, but Twitter probably isn't it, unless someone like Google buys it and gives it to the world for free.

Even if Twitter itself is not saved, whatever springs up in it's place is likely going to have similar problems with harassment.

Twitter is 100% opposed to free speech, and have stated policy that they censor views they do not like. There is nothing there to save for the sake of free speech. If you want some form of "social media" with free speech, you'll have to make it (and make it popular).

You are right, but I don't think free speech is considered a pro feature in making services popular right now.

I don't think it is either. But the post is under the misconception that twitter should be saved because it offers a free speech alternative to the other social media outlets.

This is true, they've censored Milo Yainnapolis (gay jewish conservative for Trump), Azealia Banks (female rapper who insulted middle easterners), Blaire White (transgender anti-islamic trans-woman).

Whom twitter chooses to censor is strange...

radical idea: save it by focusing on what people use it for, ignoring the trolling that you want to go away anyway. Question is, is there a business model for that?

Fast news, breaking news events, what else?

Or, you know, let it suck for awhile and we get some competition.

Twitter has been pretty rubbish curation policies and also engages in censorship of worst kind. The activists I know and follow already are looking for alternatives.

remember digg? the internet will move on.

Twitter will be absorbed by a big one (possibly Google), so no need for this kind of posts.

And if it dies, let it be. Another one will come up.

Oh please. Twitter is not fundamental to discourse, it's mostly an open sewer along with the vast majority of social media.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, no thanks.

Via Twitter I have asked clarificatory questions to some of the top authors (Taleb was one), journalists and programmers in the world.

Most of them responded.

Yes, that's something Twitter is pretty good at. E-mailing random people feels more intrusive to me, and blog comments or similar channels aren't always available or appropriate (although Twitter certainly is to blame for at least some of that)

Twitter has been the best way to deal with Comcast that I have found.

Too big to fail.

Twitter was doomed from the day it started, when it imposed the 140 character limit on what you got to say to the "world".

I mean how can anyone have a meaningful conversation or make a point in 140 characters or less? The only person capable of doing the latter ("making a point") is the Republican Candidate for President - Donald J Trump i.e. @RealDonaldTrump - and what does that tell you?

( * = Unpleasant side-effects of the 140 character limit include 1) "longer tweet" sites and services that would link a 140+ character statement to their site, so you go elsewhere to read it and 2) celebs and influencers sending a series of tweets 1 after another, and the media and others have to piece them together painfully in order to make any sense of the tweets.

Pleasant side-effects include forcing a clear cogent point by eschewing excess verbiage. I personally find the 140 limit a useful antidote to the waffling academia trained me to employ in my writing.

says the guy who made his point with 199 characters.

HN is neither twitter nor a blog.

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