in post

My favorite evil company

bird-smTwitter is still my favorite evil social network company. Evil mainly because of the way it upset developers a few years ago, for a couple of other things I vaguely recall, and for the inequity of massed capital in general.

But, compared to other social networks, there is still a whole lot to like about Twitter:

  • No real names policy as in Facebook and Google+.
  • Totally democratic about content creation - well almost. Everyone gets the same number of characters in a tweet (some companies get also "summaries").
  • Totally democratic about content dispersal.  No algorithms working surreptitiously in the background to limit viewership. Everybody sees everything.
  • Still fairly democratic about reading Twitter outside of Twitter, such as through Gnu Social, Gwibber, even the linux console: and wherever you read it, it's quick and responsive.  (They deprecated the RSS feed and placed limitations on the amount of data that can be transmitted through the API).
  • Simple privacy settings. Either you make everything public, or you protect your tweets so that only friends can see them. Most people just leave everything public, but somehow this creates less problems than on Facebook, where there is often the false illusion of privacy.
  • Finally: a great community with fantastic content, from journalists, activists, writers, artists, politicians and, if you're lucky, real life friends.

I don't know what possessed Twitter to try to force everybody back on to the main Twitter websites. There's no real advertising on the site: this comes in the form of promoted tweets. (I don't like them, but they are less obtrusive than on other websites, and the company has to make a living somehow.) Twitter should go back to being simply a framework that provides a river of information, available ubiquitously, and send its promoted tweet advertising along with the current, to wherever it is reaches. Twitter should permit its stream to be fully integrated into other social networks, desktop clients, RSS readers - whatever. People will remain loyal to Twitter because they know that it's an easy no nonsense way to reach an audience and friends, and Twitter does not need to worry that they are receiving its content on other sites or desktop clients. Why should it care? Make Twitter or Tweetdeck places that people want to visit for good reasons, not because they must.

The main issues with Twitter are still technical, whereas with Facebook they are mainly ethical, and other networks have problems of engagement, lack of a audience, or both. Twitter just needs to become more intuitive for new users and (gently) make improvements for seasoned users.