The future of the social network in the blue bird appears uncertain after a week as chaotic as the previous ones, between the new bleeding of workers and the restoration of Donald Trump’s account, a possible source of controversy.
• Also read: Trump was applauded, but also criticized at a Republican rally
• Also read: Donald Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated after the poll
• Also read: Go ‘all the way’ or go: Musk’s offer to Twitter employees
One question comes up more and more regularly: what would a world look like without Twitter?
With around 237 million daily users at the last tally, at the end of June, Twitter is more modest than Facebook (1.98 billion), TikTok (more than a billion), but also Snapchat ( 363 million).
However, in just 15 years, the platform has become an important place for leaders, companies, celebrities and media, who are sometimes content with this channel to communicate.
Twitter is “no need”, launched, in his account, Steven Cohn, businessman in New York. “The world would be fine without Twitter,” he insists, convinced, like others, that the nation of tweets is just a microcosm, with limited real significance.
“The majority of tweets come from 1%” of users, he wrote. “Most normal people never log on.”
On the contrary, for Karen North, professor at USC Annenberg University, “the really strong thing about Twitter is that anyone can express something there that everyone can see”.
In the event of conflict, social movements, waves of repression, “Twitter has become a central platform for reporting the truth of what is happening on the ground,” said Charles Lister, of the Middle East Institute think tank, in Washington ..
Like most other social networks, Twitter is also used to spread propaganda and misinformation. The company developed moderation tools to deal with this, but their sustainability is in question after the departure of more than two-thirds of the teams.
A study published in 2018 showed that false information spread there faster than verified information.
“It is unrealistic to imagine a platform where misinformation would be impossible,” tempers Charles Lister. “Seeing information, right and wrong, disappear,” including the eventual demise of Twitter, “is, by definition, a bad thing.”
“Authoritarian leaders or anyone who doesn’t want to share information could benefit from a world without Twitter,” said Arizona State University professor Mark Hass.
“It’s terrible for journalism,” added Karen North. Because “Twitter is not a social network”, he said, “it is a network of news and information, the meeting place where journalists go to update themselves, to find an idea of the subject, source or citation.”
With cuts in staff and reductions in budgets that the press has experienced for more than a decade, “there are no longer enough resources to find resources in the field”, argues the academic.
Another negative effect, according to him, “without Twitter, the people who will have access to the media are the people who are important for the press to listen to them. With Twitter, anyone can tell a story.”
Another function of this collaborative space, “Twitter has become an important source of information, advice, mutual help during hurricanes, forest fires, wars, terrorist attacks or epidemics”, tweeted Caroline Orr, researcher at the University of Maryland.
“It’s not something that can replace existing platforms,” he warned.
In general, the question of possible alternatives to Twitter does not raise a clear answer.
“Facebook has things, but it’s a little old,” says Charles Lister.
“Twitter’s competitors will undoubtedly regain users”, predicts Mark Hass, citing the social network Mastodon, “but they will probably remain niches. None of them will be the public square that is sought after Twitter will do.”
He believes more in the potential of the community site Reddit, like Karen North, where this social network is still limited, as it says, by its minimalist and sparse presentation, without comparing the ease of using a Twitter.
“I don’t believe there is anything today that offers the same added value as Twitter,” said Charles Lister.
“Can it be replicated? Of course,” he said, “but that would require enormous resources and a significant timeframe.”
Listen to Richard Martineau’s interview with techno expert Alain McKenna through :