The Trouble With Twitter (Has Little To Do With Elon Musk)

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I like Twitter.

There, I said it.
I’ve been on the platform since 2007 (Elon joined in 2009).
I’ve met, engaged and connected with many people who are now friends (in our protein forms) after meeting on Twitter.
I have lists about areas of interest that guide my thinking and make me a better person.
I choose who I follow.
I don’t block anyone.
I simply don’t follow those who engage in troll escapades and don’t satiate my curiosity.

Social media is a choice.

Social media is not mass media.
Social media is millions of – to quote David Weinberger – “small pieces loosely joined.”
Social media is the ability for content to navigate these little connections (sometimes to scale).
In the second quarter of this year, Twitter had $1.17 billion in revenue with a market cap of $41 billion.
That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it pales in comparison to their competitors.
Twitter’s ad business (which is their main revenue line, unless they’re doing something more robust economically with everyone’s data) has been puttering along for many years.

Simply put, in a world of digital advertising giants, Twitter is not often the “must have” on the media mix budgets.

Twitter has failed (mostly) with their larger acquisitions (see: TweetDeck, Vine, Trendrr, Twitpic, Periscope, etc..)
Twitter has not had much evolution in terms of innovation (and that has not led to new markets being entered or a significant growth in user base or new revenue models).
Getting beyond the 280 character limit into audio, video, images, etc… has, for the most part, been a non-event for Twitter in a world where TikTok, Instagram, podcasting, newsletters, short-form text content (Axios, Morning Brew, Substack), have excelled.

There has been too much focus these days on content moderation, politics, and charging for profile verification.

It’s not like we’ve seen these sweeping and improved changes on any of the other/competitive social media platforms.
Not by a long shot.
So, is the current Twitter rage truly about Twitter or Elon?

The not-so-secret Twitter secret is this…

Twitter’s greatest success is the media attention that it generates.
Full stop.
This article is no exception.

And here’s my larger thought:

The only reason Twitter is in the media as much as it is, is because the media has chosen to focus on it and the content that comes from it.
Twitter is the lightbulb. Mass media is the bug.
What is the actual cultural impact, and value of Twitter?
Next to nothing compared to what it was in the past (think: Arab Spring).
It has allowed those with a voice to simply communicate to their audience in a direct way (without the need for mass media and intermediaries).
Because of this, it gets even more mass media attention.
It’s actually not a very large platform in comparison to others (when we discuss the FAANG companies – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google – there is no “T” for Twitter… but there should be a “M” for Microsoft).
It has very limited reach in the purest way social networks would measure reach.


Twitter is a media darling.
Twitter is like an “influencer” (or a culmination of many influencers?) – able to punch above its weight-class by simply making a spectacle of itself… because it’s easy to amplify a simplified statement in 280 characters.
Twitter is like a reality TV “celebrity.”
The mass media loves this kind of content (the premastication of content and thoughts).
Twitter has been languishing long before Elon made his initial investments in the company back in 2017.
You can choose to leave Twitter.
You can choose to stay on Twitter.


  1. Twitter needs to clean itself up.
  2. Twitter needs to find new (and more) users who care enough to keep using it.
  3. Twitter needs to leverage that to amp up its advertising revenue (attention = advertising dollars).
  4. Twitter needs to figure out new models of monetization. 
  5. Twitter needs to figure out new models of innovation.

Now, remove the name “Twitter” from those last five points, and insert whatever social network you’re currently using to complain about Twitter.
The same could be said for all of them.
You can let the world know on other platforms – that have the same issues as Twitter – your disdain for Twitter.

I’m not sure how that solves much of anything…

For you…
And for Twitter.
And for other social media networks.
And for the betterment of how we use technology and, ultimately, treat one another.

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