Skip to Content

Time for Twitter to End Its Dreams of World Domination?

After a rough 2015 and disappointing growth figures announced this week, the case is being made that Twitter should aim lower.
February 11, 2016

For anyone interested in the ups and downs of Twitter, the last week or so has held plenty of intrigue. First, rumors swirled that the famously of-the-moment social-media service would leave its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it firehose experience behind in favor of showing users tweets curated by algorithm. The Twitterverse responded by making the #RIPTwitter hashtag an instant viral sensation. CEO Jack Dorsey tried to assure his restive user base that Twitter “is real-time,” but on Wednesday the company said yes, it is in fact presenting users with an algorithmic time line to help catch them up after they’ve been away from the service.

On the same day, Twitter reported its earnings, disclosing that the number of people using its platform shrank in the final quarter of 2015. For a company born in the “take over the world” ethos of Silicon Valley, this was seen as dire news indeed.

But while many wondered about how long Twitter has left to live, especially in the face of perhaps direct competition from the social-media behemoth Facebook, Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times had a different take: It’s time for Twitter to start thinking smaller.

As a Twitter power user, Manjoo makes no bones about his bias in favor of keeping the service around. He even declares it, unequivocally, “the world’s most important social network.”

It may not be that, but Manjoo’s proposal of convincing Twitter not to try to rival giants like Facebook and Google makes a lot of sense. There is evidence that it simply isn’t built for such wide adoption—and what’s wrong with being a company worth $10 billion (which Twitter still is, even in these dark days)?

If Dorsey still dreams of adding a zero to his company’s market capitalization, he may very well attempt to reinvent a service that still counts more than 300 million people as monthly users. If he does, he might satisfy investors with a resumption of rapid growth. Or he might fail. The worry that Manjoo and many other have is that either way, a very popular, powerful form of online expression risks being weakened or killed off.

(Source: Wired, New York Times)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

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.

tonga eruption
tonga eruption

Tonga’s volcano blast cut it off from the world. Here’s what it will take to get it reconnected.

The world is anxiously awaiting news from the island—but on top of the physical destruction, the eruption has disconnected it from the internet.

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.

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.