It seems like every year, a high-ranking executive from Twitter comes out and says that they acknowledge that Twitter has some serious problems when it comes to abuse. They then promise that they are working on a fix and nothing really changes.
The 2019 version of that promise is here; twttr – A prototype app they launched last month in order to “give Twitter a separate space outside its public network to experiment with new ideas about how Twitter should look, feel and operate.”
The team at Twitter believes that this new testing ground could be a great way to improve the platform and finally deal with issues such as cyberbullying (the kind that resulted in the Masiyiwas deleting their accounts), and user growth as Twitter has always been used less widely than its main competitor Facebook.
What could go wrong?
Maybe this prototype will be the beginning of a “new dispensation” (a real one) for Twitter but the problem is they have said they are fixing the platform for a number of years now.
5 years ago, Quartz produced a piece titled Inside Twitter’s plan to fix itself. The piece was centred around Twitter’s user growth problem. Whilst the User Base has grown from 241 to 355 million Monthly Active Users, they are still some way behind Facebook’s 2.3 billion.
At the time, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said:
I am not going to be satisfied until we reach every connected user on the planet, periodDick Costolo, former Twitter CEO
Ironically, Mr Costolo stepped down in July 2015 and I suppose he was not satisfied as he hadn’t reached his goal.
Shortly, after handing over the reins to new (and current) CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter embarked on Project Lightning. The highlight of this update was Twitter Moments ( a group of tweets stitched together around a specific topic).
If you know anything about Twitter in the year 2019, it’s that no one gives a flying sock about moments. There’s that to fixing Twitter.
In the year of Trump, Twitter’s biggest problem was harassment and they added a mute button in order to curb incidents of abuse. Whilst the mute button is pretty cool and it’s a great way to block people without blocking them, it doesn’t solve the abuse problem. Muting can only be done after the fact – thus you have to interact with a harasser/abuser and their vitriol and only after can you take action.
E for effort…
The following year, Twitter came up with new rules around unwanted sexual advances and the like. This was the year of #MeToo as well so there was a lot of social pressure on Twitter to be seen doing something.
This was also the year that Twitter decided to add a safe search function.
Overall the efforts were decent but forgettable…
The CEO said he was rethinking how Twitter could become less of an enabler of hate speech, fake news and harassment.
2018 was the year of Alex Jones and InfoWars, which was banned on YouTube & Spotify but Twitter left them running. Twitter eventually banned him too but that’s a story that would require it’s own article(s).
So far it doesn’t seem like these issues have been addressed and that’s how we arrive in mid-2019 and twttr…
Light at the end of a bird shaped tunnel?
Now for all we know this new twttr could work and Twitter has shown a willingness to make some changes as this article shows. However, if the past is anything to go by, expect Twitter to come up with a new plan to fix itself next year…
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