Struggling Twitter marks its 10th year with uncertain future

Twitter marks its 10th anniversary today, with the social media site having hosted some of the biggest social movements of the last 10 years, yet uncertainty still hangs over its future.

Struggling Twitter marks its 10th year with uncertain future

The site is struggling to attract new users, has seen share prices tumble, and faces continued questions over how it handles abuse.

Five hundred million tweets are now sent every day, with 200bn posted every year and hashtags such as #JeSuisParis in the wake of the November terrorist attacks in the French capital dominating international debate online.

Twitter’s Lewis Wilshere said of the site’s 10th birthday: “Whether it’s the London 2012 Olympics, the #GBBO final, the General Election or the BRIT Awards, when big events happen, they happen on Twitter.”

In 2008, Nasa also used the site to confirm the Mars Phoenix Lander had found ice on the planet.

There have also been more than 250bn ‘likes’ of tweets.

However, issues have continued to plague Twitter, particularly surrounding abuse — something one of its most prominent supporters, actor Stephen Fry, cited when he quit Twitter last month.

He described its decline from “a secret bathing-pool in a magical glade” to a stagnant pool that is “frothy with scum, clogged with weeds and littered with broken glass, sharp rocks and slimy rubbish”, adding that he felt the site had become a “stalking ground”.

Uncertainty remains, with speculation continuing over possible plans by the firm to remove the site’s signature 140-character limit.

Twitter has also courted controversy over the years:

  • In early 2015, former chief executive Dick Costolo, while still in charge of the company, sent a memo to all Twitter staff telling them the site must do more to tackle abusive messages and content, saying that it currently “sucks” at dealing with it. He adds that this is one of the key reasons more people are not active on the site. A new help centre for reporting abuse is launched, but within six months Mr Costolo has resigned and is replaced by the site’s founder, Jack Dorsey.
  • Following the suicide of her father, actor Robin Williams, in 2014, Zelda Williams closed her Twitter account after the actress was inundated with words and images about his death. Ms Williams reported a number of users over the abuse, many of whom had their accounts suspended, however she soon confirmed she would be deleting her account “for a good long time”. She did, however, return three weeks later.
  • In an attempt to open the site up to more users, speculation began to mount in early 2016 that Twitter was considering dropping its 140-character limit on tweets. A similar move had already been applied to direct messages between two users. However, Twitter users quickly condemned the rumours, with many suggesting the site was trying too hard to mimic Facebook.

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