Time for a Twitter Review

Quarterly metric comparisons may not be significant, but the Twitter experience is changing for many of its users.

If there is one thing the tech journalism community loves it’s a good (or even not-so-good) story about the death of Twitter. Though the frequency of these stories has come down from its all-time-high a couple of years ago, they’re still out there to find without too much effort.

Some good kindling to ignite another Twitter article is an quarterly earnings report, which Twitter produced on Thursday. The Chicago Tribune seized upon the opportunity to beat on Twitter again with a piece featuring the headline Twitter lost 2 million users in the US last quarter. A read into the article and you realize the news is not all doom and gloom. Although total user count was down by 3%, CFO Anthony Noto notes:

In daily active users, Twitter grew 9 percent in the United States, Noto said, adding that the company continues to see “stable growth rates.”

Although Twitter probably still has a strong future and continues to be a valuable platform, it does seem like a good time to assess how the character of the service has changed in the last couple of years. The real, consistent change seemed to start around 2014 with the Gamergate controversy and pick up steam with the latest presidential election. The second wave was led by the now president, himself a model Twitter troll, who lashes out at anyone he disagrees with in the most juvenile ways. The majority of Twitterverse has reacted to this president and his actions in a near constant state of disbelief, revulsion and ridicule.

This tweet perhaps captures the state and nature of the various social media services today.

Patrick Rhone laments the changes in Twitter in his newsletter.

The Twitter I miss is not the one I left on March 4th of this year when I decided to take my nonline sabbatical. The Twitter I miss is the one that I first joined near its start many years ago. What I miss most is the small group of friends I cultivated in those early days and how the service encouraged us to interact with each other. It used to be such a vibrant and smart place for that small online community and it doesn’t seem to be good at that anymore.

The experience of Twitter really depends on who you follow and what you contribute, but I’m willing to bet that a lot of users feel the same way Rhone does. Does the service now just play a different, but equally valuable role or has it diminished in its appeal?

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Robert is a Christian, aspiring minimalist, software dev manager and paper airplane mechanic located in North Carolina.

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