Is Twitter over?
via AP

Is Twitter over?

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Twitter's slow fall from grace continues as more executives jump ship and the platform grows increasingly toxic. Some critics say Twitter is beyond saving. The trolls and toxicity, which seems like a platform feature at this point, will inevitably drive users away. Some fans remain hopeful and think Twitter can be fixed. Even if Twitter does not succeed as a publicly traded company, it is an extremely powerful tool that should be preserved. Can Twitter be saved?

The Votes Are In!

Twitter enables a lot of good in the world. The problem is Twitter has few incentives to directly address the issues of toxicity because it risks going too far and damaging its ability to turn a profit. 

For lots of us users, it’s a different story. Twitter is pretty great. We reporters rely on its instant access to the chatter of the world more than we like to admit. The running commentary of friends and celebrities has turned horrible presidential debates and State of the Unions into Mystery Science Theater 3000. And the platform nurtures communities fighting for justice; historian Anthea Butler has argued, for instance, that Black Twitter has come to inherit the mantle of the Black Church. It also delivers us frequent access to Donald Trump’s id, if we want.
The trouble is, Wall Street’s economy has become Twitter’s economy, even if Wall Street’s view of the platform’s usefulness isn’t necessarily our view. But what if we changed Twitter’s economy? What if users were to band together and buy Twitter for themselves?
Transitioning Twitter from a publicly traded stock to a cooperative ensures Twitter remains dedicated to what gives the company its value—the users. 

How can we make sure that the future of the company serves those who depend on it most, who most want see it succeed culturally, technologically, and financially? This could be a chance to make the company better reflect the commons and the community that we have built with its product.

Critics say Twitter can't be saved. Twitter is inherently toxic, not by design, but because that's what the users want it (whether or not they realize it). 

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently asked his followers to suggest ideas for improvement. He got plenty of recommendations, such as an edit button so users could fix erroneous or ill-considered tweets. Other suggestions included a bookmark button and improved reporting options for bullying.

It’s unclear if these kinds of changes will improve the quality of Twitter discourse. What they won’t fix is the company’s cafe car problem. We say that we want more civil, thoughtful dialogue. But do we really?

Users may say they want more civil discourse, but at a fundamental level, they don't. Emily Parker identifies three of the main reasons why Twitter is the way it is.
  • We’re addicted to the promise of going viral.
  • Thoughtful engagement takes too much time.
  • Civility can be boring.
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