Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why Twitter Sucks

The thing I find most interesting about Twitter is its trends section, and more specifically, the way viral campaigns can influence and draw attention to whatever they're promoting. This had almost swayed me to make a Twitter account until Twitter decided to start censoring their trends.

Back in June, there was a big fuss when a bunch of people collaborated to hashtag sexual terms all at once and Twitter stepped in to remove the trends. If they're really worried about "obscenity," they can make some a filter for "objectionable" words. Preferably one users can turn on and off, like Google's safesearch feature.

Even more recently, there was a collective attempt by Supernatural fans to bring attention to the season premiere. They used the tag "LuciferIsComing," referring to, well, Lucifer coming. A bunch of Twitter users freaked out (including P Diddy. Seriously.) and Twitter soon removed the tag from its trends.

Okay. As stupid as I think that was, I get that Twitter quickly moved to placate its users who were freaking out over the tag. Ridiculous, but understandable.

Then the fans trended "PDiddyIsScaredOfHisTV." Twitter pulled that one, too. Okay, please point out all the people offended by that tag? P Diddy. P Diddy's mother. Anyone else? No? Then why pull it?

It seems to me that any website trying to hold onto an audience should be careful with its censorship. Twitter has a 40% retention rate (compare with Myspace and Facebook hovering near 70%). I can post any of the above things on Facebook or Gchat or MySpace and not have them pulled. So why would I (as a hypothetical Twitter user) choose to use a site that's going to restrict such trivial things?

I would think their argument would come down to spamming. But to me, that's the best part of Twitter: The ability to get a group of like-minded individuals working together to spread a message. If they're going to block these attempts, I don't see the point in having one.