Will Twitter still eventually wither and die?

April 26, 2010

A year ago I wrote a blog post, Ten reasons why Twitter will eventually wither and die… in which I covered that I saw at the time as ten valid reasons why one day Twitter would “wither and die”.

It is a fact known to all that use Web 2.0 tools and services that one day they will no longer be flavour of the month, or will be swamped by spam, cons and hustlers. One day we will no longer be using Twitter and when that is, no one really knows, but if it continues along it’s current roadmap it will be sooner than we think.

So do I still think, a year later, Twitter more popular than ever, that Twitter will no longer be the popular site it is now?

So what of the ten reasons I discussed back then.

1. Spam

Spam is still an issue on Twitter.Last year I said “though it doesn’t generally affect the majority of Twitter users” however this year I would suggest that it does impact on many users. We still have hashtag and searching spam, click on any Trending Topic and you will see spam postings amongst all the other tweets in the trending stream. Twitter’s own @spam account is certainly helping in reducing spam and warning people about possible spamming. There is also the report spam button which also helps to reduce spam.

What I am seeing more of is people RTing adverts and promotions, the RT to win an iPad for example.

For some reason people think they might actually win an iPad doing this! Duh! Well there may be some valid Twitter competitions and there are some which are not so valid… Of course the real issue is that if your Twitter stream is consistently full of people just RTing competitions is this not spam?

Another form of spamming is continually posting links to your blog.

But James you do this I hear you say…

Now I know I post links and I do worry about doing so. Spam by definition is unwanted communication, and spam is also quite personal. What I consider to be useful blog links, you may consider to be unwanted spam. However in terms of Twitter I think the issue is much more about the quantity of tweets about blog posts as a proportion of total tweets. This is where I do get concerned, if I post lots of tweets about my blog posts and in addition most of my other tweets are @ replies then unless you follow everyone I do, all you will see from me are tweets linking to my blog posts. As a result you may consider me more of a spammer, as though I am using Twitter to converse and chat, you are not seeing that, as you don’t follow the people I do. As a result I generally only post a link to my blog posting once. I know this means that some people will miss it, if I post in the morning, then people in the evening may miss it… However if it is a good blog post (as considered by others) than what can happen is that other people will post the link or RT my link.

2. Terrible Jokes

Last year I mentioned humour as an issue.

We all like to have a laugh and one of the attractions of Twitter can be the humour that you find there. However some people takes jokes a little too far and this can annoy people, especially conference organisers who don’t want their Twitter stream “corrupted” by inappropriate humour.

I think this is now less important, though a similar issue is inappropriate language. The main issue with this is if you are like me and show other people how Twitter works, to have a stream full of people using inappropriate language can reinforce people’s perceptions of what “social networking” is all about.

3. Fake RTs

Last year I said

Hasn’t happened to me, but did happen to @billt (the real Bill Thompson). To RT or to re-tweet means to completely copy and post what someone else has posted before. Generally a way of getting information around Twitter quite fast and for highlighting important information or sites. So how does the Fake RT work, basically someone posts a tweet like this RT @jamesclay Found this really interesting site http://youknowit.is/spam others who respect @jamesclay then follow the link or even worse retweet (RT) the spam tweet.

This does now happen to me on a regular basis. People copy what I am tweeting and posting it on, sometimes with links that I don’t endorse!

4. The Hustle

Last year I said:

However there is a problem with shortened URLs and that is you don’t know where you are going as the URL gives no indication. This unknown factor will allowunscrupulous Twitter users to send other users to spam sites, or more worryingly phishing sites or sites with a virus or trojan download.

Still happens, and people still get caught out and hand over their Twitter credentials. This then leads into…

5. Identity Theft

Still happens way too often, sometimes accidently as people fall foul to phishing scams, but sometimes as people authorise third party apps to post tweets using their account.

6. Cons and Scams

We still get cons and scams. With the recent Haiti earthquake there were a few cons going around Twitter about making donations, which didn’t get to Haiti but went into the pockets of con artists.

7. Trojans and Worms

I said back then

As Twitter becomes more and more popular, it won’t be long before it gets swamped by worms and trojans. Once we’ve been infected we probably won’t go back and one day it might be too much for us all and we’re all go and leave and move onto the next thing.

It’s still an issue and if people keep clicking on unknown links then it will keep happening.

8. Fashion

Only time will tell if Twitter will remain fashionable. However the tech sites are already looking for the next thing after Twitter. Yesterday the Guardian published an article Will Foursquare be the new Twitter? in which Tim Adams says:

An application that allows friends to track one another’s movements when they’re out and about could be the next big thing in social networking.

Mashable last July in Foursquare: Why It May Be the Next Twitter said:

While no service is likely to achieve the same scale as Twitter in the coming months, Foursquare has all the right ingredients to be one of this year’s big hits.

I am seeing more and more of my Twitter community using Foursquare. Once that service starts to add Twitter’esque functionality, will people move on from Twitter? Don’t know for sure, but it does mean that if other things in this list annoy you, you now have somewhere to go…

9. Feature Creep

There are already lots of third party tools that add additional features to Twitter. Last year I said:

Once too many people start using these tools, you may find that your Twitter stream becomes just a stream of announcements from people using these tools, and as a result you may well stop using Twitter as it will have outlived its usefulness.

I still think that added features can enhance a service, but in addition can spoil what makes Twitter unique, relevant and useful.

10. Spam Followers

I still get them, I bet you do too.

Conclusions

There are now other reasons why Twitter will fall by the wayside and I will discuss these in a future blog post. So will Twitter fail and disappear completely as I predicted last year? Eventually, yes Twitter will go the same way as other services have in the past, some diehard users will continue to use the service.

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