Monday, July 6, 2009

Twitter has jumped the shark

I am not the first person to say it. I did a quick search to see if I could find the person who said Twitter has jumped the shark first, but seems that many people have been saying it since earlier this year. Was it Ashton Kutcher's push for a million follows? Was it OPRAH'S first (all caps) tweet live from her show? Was it members of Congress tweeting during Obama speeches? For me, it was some girl named "Kitty" being my 200th follower sending me a message to look at her porn pics (blocked you, sorry Kitty).

What has happened this year is that Twitter has gone mainstream. Ashton and Oprah contributed to that, but recognition by mainstream news services like CNN really sold it. All of a sudden, CNN is reporting on what people are saying on Twitter about this or that. Then the Iran Election happens. Twitter buzz is news worthy now. All of a sudden, everyone wants to be on Twitter - or at least try to understand it. It's certainly a household name now.

What has followed is SPAM! Twitter used to be relatively free of Spam, and I have seen Twitter try to keep up with fighting spam by deleting bogus account
s periodically. I think though they are likely overwhelmed and unable to keep up with accounts that are bogus or spam.

Spam will be the downfall of Twitter. Users experience spam in different ways.
  1. You get a random reply from someone trying to sell you something (like this from a conversation between @adamjackson and I)
  2. You are followed by a user who has only one or a few tweets, trying to link you somewhere (usually to porn)
  3. You mention something and all of a sudden people who 'specialize' in that are following you or replying to you. For example, I mentioned "Tequila" in a post recently and all of a sudden I had people selling tequila following me. Below is an example of a reply I got after mentioning "Vegas". (Imagine if you mentioned the word "sex" or "porn" in a post!)

I try to do my part by blocking bogus followers, as I'm under the assumption Twitter looks at accounts that are blocked excessively. But I will only have the patience to police my account for so long. The next thing that will happen, like what happened with the Craigslist killer, is that someone will get hurt or killed as a result of using Twitter, it will be widely publicized, and it will hurt Twitters reputation and credibility (as the Craigslist killer has done for CL in my opinion).

One thing Twitter users can do to protect themselves is become more private by protecting their updates, but this defeats the purpose of sharing publicly - something which is key to Twitter's current success.
I have already started looking for a Twitter substitute, and plan to curb my usage.

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