Twitter is the new MySpace

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Published on 27 July 2023 by Andrew Owen (3 minutes)

At the end of last year, among my predictions for 2023 was that Twitter would still be around at the end of this year. I may have only been half right. The company is rebranding to X Corp. At time of writing, there’s a redirect to Twitter. But how long will that last?

“X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.” —Linda Yaccarino

In 1999 Elon Musk founded an online bank called It later merged with Confinitiy to create PayPal (which is where he made the money he invested in Tesla and SpaceX). I guess he kept the domain registration. According to Musk, the acquisition of Twitter was “an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”

We’ve been here before. Web search engines evolved into portals. The fourth most popular search engine at time of writing is Yandex. Besides its search engine, the multi-national provides services including e-commerce, email, maps and navigation, mobile apps and online advertising. Founded in Russia by Arkday Volozh and Ilya Segalovich, the company is now headquartered in the Netherlands. It has the Cyrillic alphabet market mostly to itself.

But the app that Musk is modeling X on is WeChat. Multi-national Tencent launched it as a messaging app in 2011. But by 2018 it had become the largest standalone mobile app. It did this by adding features from apps like Craigslist, GrubHub, Uber and Venmo.

Here’s where I think Musk has made a miscalculation. As Tom Scott observed, micro-blogging sites like Twitter replaced personal blogs (although there’s still a place for special interest blogs). But micro-blogging sites are being replaced by messaging apps. That’s why Facebook (before it was Meta) bought Whatsapp. If I wanted to build an everything app out of an existing application, I would start with a messaging app. The biggest thing Twitter has going for it is brand recognition. And Musk is ditching the name and the logo.

And I think that means Twitter will go the way of MySpace. MySpace is still around, but it has become a niche site for musicians to promote their work. I suspect that the micro-blogging part of X will still get used for niche purposes, like discussing DevRel. But, Twitter never attracted a mass audience, and it seems unlikely to prosper under the current management.

So for that reason, my experiment with using Twitter as a means of promoting this blog is over. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the platform even before Musk bought it. It had a very poor record on moderation of hateful content, even then. Twitter was one of the main places where DevRel interactions happened, but as a result of the tech crunch DevRel is in the process of reinventing itself, and it’s far from certain that it will stick with X.

Meta has taken the opportunity to launch its own micro-blogging platform called Threads tied to Instagram. But due to a dispute between Meta and the EU, it’s not available in most of Europe. So that’s not an option.

I’ve looked at the analytics, and it turns out that the site that’s actually driving the most traffic to my blog is LinkedIn. In fact I haven’t had a like on a Twitter post since last May. So I’ve reconfigured my free Buffer account to automate posts to Instagram, LinkedIn and Mastodon. And I’m also experimenting with linking Instagram posts to a Facebook page. I’m not rage-quitting Twitter. I just don’t think I’m going to get much more use out of it.