A few days ago, The New Yorker posted an well-written article by The Verge co-founder Joshua Topolsky titled “The End of Twitter“. His article suggests with the stagnancy of the Twitter network that the relevance of its’ use now and in future may be be called into question.
It is difficult not to concur with the writer that Twitter on its’ face has seen a period of division and at the corporate and platform level. A few changes over the last year sparked a noticeable amount of understandable outrage from users. Those users for the most part seemed to have adapted. There are still many Facebook users who bemoan the useless changes it continues to undertake and promote as positive. Even with the changes Twitter has made and is planning to make, it still saw a modestly small growth in the number of users in 2015. By comparison, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat are still seeing much more rapid growth. Tolpolsky correctly points out in talking about Facebook that “the company has demonstrated its mastery of product focus and long-term commitment to user experience.”
What Facebook has definitely not mastered is the understanding of user privacy rights within the context of its’ own terms and conditions. In November of last year, I wrote about my unpleasant experience in great detail about Facebook’s having taken mine and many other accounts hostage for questioning user identities. You can read that post here. Facebook’s user settings do not guarantee the privacy it so readily promises. I respectfully disagree with Topolsky that Mark Zuckerberg’s “one identity” concept has made Facebook “a much safer space to engage.” Recently I engaged in a long conversation with a police officer who candidly told me that there has been a significant spike in incidents of stalking and harassment related to social media. In almost 100% of the incidents investigated, the acts are facilitated through use of Facebook. Further research has indicated Facebook to be very much at the heart of incidents involving cyber-bullying.
My own personal experience has turned me almost completely off of the service altogether. I was preparing to re-start a professional page for my writing work, deciding against it in the end. Humbly, I admit to still being a user of the service on a personal level. The difference is that I have gone from being a frequent user of Facebook to almost inactive. Security-wise I have found it is now very easy to swiftly report and block abusive users engaged in harassment on Twitter compared to Facebook. A few years ago a family member experienced some abusive harassment which should have resulted in a shutdown of that users’ account. Facebook did not deal with this user at all. Made it seem like concerns are not addressed at all. So my personal experience between the two platforms has very much been more favourable to Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely appreciate that this does not mean Twitter users are completely immune to anything hurtful.
Facebook’s growth in revenue has not necessarily meant an increase in users. In a Forbes article written by Parmy Olsen posted at the beginning of 2015, it was reported that according to research firm GlobalWebIndex, 2014 was a year where Facebook saw a noticeable drop in users.
Even so, it still remains the most powerful social media platform in the world. It may prove to have longer staying power than some of us would like. Businesses looking to expand their internet presence are at the very minimum, being advised to bring their business online to Facebook. How many times are you out shopping and see a sign that requests you “Like us on Facebook”? It’s a favour asked almost by any business nowadays.
Personally and professionally, I have found a much better experience within the screens of Twitter. I believe it to allow for a significantly larger global reach. You can really see more content that you actually want to read. I have found Facebook to be very guilty of littering my feed more so with uninteresting and irrelevant content that does not even come close to being of personal interest. For creative types, the soon to be changed 140 character limit on Twitter has been a writing lesson within social media. It challenges users to get creative within a confined space. Some users like comedian Norm MacDonald have taken Twitter to a new level by brilliantly telling entire stories within a series of tweets. There was a time when Facebook limited how much you could type into a status update. Twitter seems ready to take that next step.
Twitter is evolving in its’ own way. Hopefully the dust will settle at the corporate level and they can focus on bettering itself as a company. A better company surely will mean delivering a better product for all users. Twitter is still relevant. Hopefully better business decisions will result in a better social media experience. Twitter really has the potential to prove itself better than any other program. It can become more relevant than currently perceived. I really hope it is not the beginning of the end for it.