The Problem with Twitter

I used to be a Twitter user, but have stopped for a few reasons.  One of them was my own lack of trending on topics and using the hashtags as much as I wanted.  However, the most important reason, and the reason why I think that Facebook still edges out Twitter in many aspects is Facebook’s ability have threaded posts.  Allowing for comments and replies to traverse on the same thread as a conversation does so much better than the random timeline stories a user gets from conversations being replied to back and forth from someone they follow.

Also, the threading allows for the conversation to be easily reprised as opposed to Twitter Direct Messages.  As well, threading keeps different topics separate.

Facebook has yet to be completely taken over by Twitter for the same reasons message boards have not been outdated or outmoded yet.  They simply offer more for conversation by length (obviously) and separation.  Critics of Facebook have always given flack for Facebook’s blatant copying of Twitter-like characteristics.  While that can easily be seen as true, the real problem is that it only adds to Facebook’s value, despite any “this is going to be the next MySpace failure” revelations.

All that said, Twitter does offer some things that no other medium can right now.  First, its ability to trend topics (and its use of hashtags) is useful, if not amazing.  Second, within the brevity of its posts, flame wars while still entirely possible, take so much more effort; maybe even enough effort to curtail them a bit.

As a side note, I still fail to understand why more users don’t use RSS feeds.  In fact, that’s another Twitter failing, not that they don’t use RSS feeds, they do.  The failing is that because most users don’t use RSS feeds, they pick up news from people they follow by looking at their timelines. The problem with looking only at timelines is that you may miss posts, or have users that are aware of this phenomenon and who continue to repost their news (I’m looking at you @Tim Harford) thereby adding duplicate posts for some people.

At the risk of being redundant, there is a silver lining for Twitter versus the idea of simply subscribing to a site’s RSS feed.  Twitter allows you to see the person you like conversing with whoever they converse, as opposed to not knowing who talks to whom with a plain RSS feed from a site.  But, you can easily fix that if you subscribe to someone’s Twitter RSS feed.  Of course, that defeats any argument for not using Twitter.

But not using Twitter has not been my argument.  I just think it has its limits, therefore keeping Facebook (and your own blog) relevant.


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