Skip to Content

Is Facebook About to Kill Off Twitter?

Twitter is struggling to grow, its executives are leaving in droves, and now Facebook looks to be muscling in on its turf.
January 29, 2016

Twitter’s stock price has been tumbling for months, and CEO Jack Dorsey announced this week that several of its highest-ranking executives are fleeing. The deepest concern, though, isn’t about corporate machinations—it seems that the product itself simply isn’t as compelling as Facebook. Walt Mossberg, one of the better-known tech pundits anywhere, said Twitter had become way too complicated to use and called it “secret-handshake software” that only people who invest huge amounts of time can get full benefit from.

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Slow growth and competition from Facebook threaten the company.

Dorsey has talked about wanting to turn Twitter into a service that’s as “easy as looking out the window to see what’s happening.” But Ben Thompson at Stratechery argues that that by failing to evolve way back in 2009—before Facebook had grown into a service that a large fraction of Earth’s population uses at least once a month—Twitter missed its chance. Facebook is simply too big and too good at presenting readers with interesting information for Twitter to have any shot at stealing users away from the big blue “f.”

To make matters worse, Facebook now appears to be directly targeting Twitter’s core business. During Facebook’s earnings call on Wednesday, COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company plans to invest heavily in “real-time sharing”—the one thing that Twitter does better than Facebook. Sports events, political discussions, and any other kind of in-the-moment interactions amongst users are what Facebook sees as a big growth area going forward. For Twitter, whose 320 million users appear paltry beside Facebook’s nearly 1.6 billion, it’s not clear that even a major reinvention can get the company back on the growth track.

(Sources: Reuters, Recode, Business Insider, Stratechery)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

ai learning to multitask concept
ai learning to multitask concept

Meta’s new learning algorithm can teach AI to multi-task

The single technique for teaching neural networks multiple skills is a step towards general-purpose AI.

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.