Twitter has a problem. The user numbers are not growing fast enough, and the usage numbers are not growing fast enough either. The average person who has no problem using Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram struggles on Twitter.
Twitter is a great tool for journalists, PR, bloggers, celebrities and egomaniacs of all hues and colors — the ability to get on a free, global blow horn and share your views with everyone. Most people are not like that. They don’t have a desire to share what they think about Hillary Clinton’s debate performance with the world at large. People are afraid of public speaking. Really. One study points out that 3 out 4 people are afraid of public speaking.
Facebook allows one to share her views with friends. It feels private (even if its not). When people spam me on WhatsApp with a group of 80 other people, they feel they are talking to a handful of so called friends.
Twitter may not be able to solve this problem. It can either accept it and build itself as a tool for the 1% that over share or it has to fundamentally rethink its open access, public by default, model.
The problem is further compounded by stories like this of a woman who tweeted something racist. It ruined her life. Who wants to get on stage and try to be funny now?
Even if you are not stupid (and arguably racist) in your tweets you can have a mob descend on you because of what you say. Just ask women who try to engage in conversations about bias at work. You can be harangued and threatened because a large vocal minority doesn’t share your views.
Twitter’s anonymity allows freer expression of views but it also results in greater abuse and the fear of the unknown. I have no idea who will read my tweets. While the vocal minority loves having their tweet suddenly become a meme liked and retweeted by millions, it is a nightmare for those with glossophobia.