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Twitter is the world’s most important social network


Twitter is under siege with people saying its days are numbered. Users are threatening to leave for any of number reasons – most of them baseless. Financial analysts and reporters, looking at Twitter’s declining stock price, see a dying company.

I couldn’t disagree more. Twitter is what it is, one of the more powerful, if not the most powerful, news and information reporting utilities in the world. I doubt that Reuters, UPI or the AP had near the influence and importance in their first decade.

I’m with New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) who believes Twitter is our most important social network.

That might sound like the ravings of an addict, but look at the headlines in every morning’s newspaper and the obsessions of every evening’s cable news broadcast. Just about anything you encounter in the news media these days has some foot in the controversies and conversations occurring on the 140-character network.

Financial valuations of Twitter as a measurement of the company’s success are flawed.

Wall Street has only one template of success for an Internet company: Google and, later, Facebook. By filing for an initial public offering, Twitter was telling the world that it was part of the same club — that there was no upper bound to its business aims, and that it would try to build a money machine that matched the size and importance of its service.

Twitter need not become a $50 billion or $100 billion business for it to be a well run and very profitable utility.

Long time technology leader and executive, Anil Dash (@anildash) nailed it in telling Manjoo:

Maybe Twitter is not meant to be the most popular band in the world. Maybe it’s meant to be merely Pearl Jam and not U2, and maybe Twitter could find equilibrium as a company with an enterprise value of merely $5 billion. [Twitter is at $10 billion today]

Look at Yahoo, says Manjoo, if you’re looking for an Internet company that chased elusive growth for growth’s sake.

After losing its dominance as a search engine, Yahoo has faced more than a decade of struggle mainly because it has tried too long to become the one-stop portal that it isn’t.

In that effort it has squandered talent and money and run through more chief executives than you’d find at a Brooks Brothers sale. If, instead of pursuing the moon, Yahoo had vastly lowered its ambitions and planned to do one or two things really well, it could have found a sustainable path forward.

The fact is Twitter is pretty darn popular. How would you like to have an Internet business that’s twenty percent as big as Facebook, the world’s largest media channel – social or otherwise? Twitter’s user base grew 9% in the last year to 307 million.

Sure, Twitter is tough for some folks to figure out, but, as Manjoo points out, it works awfully well.

Twitter is an accessible, real-time network that has become the nerve center of the world’s journalists, politicians, activists and agitants, it has, for better or worse, demonstrated an unrivaled capacity to influence real things in the real world.

Lost in all the noise is how Twitter has democratized media and news coverage. Twitter has given people who went unheard a voice. DeRay McKesson (@DeRay), one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, summed it well for Manjoo.

Twitter has created space for the amplification of the voice of marginalized people in ways that we have not seen before. It has redefined our understanding of the public sphere to be more inclusive and more accessible and to have substantive impact on real-world events.

Don’t believe the news reports that Twitter is on the decline. Reject the social media pundits, including those teaching lawyers and other professionals, who are telling you that Twitter is not worthwhile to understand and use.

Twitter’s message may have drifted for a while but co-founder, Jack Dorsey is back at the helm as CEO. Dorsey, founder of Square, is a widely respected technology innovator and just completed a major board and executive shakeup. He’s on record as saying his intent is to make Twitter more “twittery.” And that’s a good thing.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Gerry Buckle

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