The rise of social media was possibly the most exciting time in internet history.
It marked the moment when the internet woke up by enabling people to communicate at an unprecedented scale. It was the most disruptive moment to the social order since the invention of the printing press and the ensuing democratisation of information.
Startups that kicked off the social media revolution were aggressively lean and purpose driven. Think of Instagram’s boastful 270 million users with 13 employees before the Facebook acquisition, and Facebook’s obsession with openness, or Twitter’s goal of being the place where things happen.
Each social media innovator was staged to be a unique beacon of progress for the future of the internet. Things looked bright.
It’s now 2022 and lot has changed since the early days. Social media companies have undergone massive transformations, from human driven information centres, to growth machines.
By changing their purpose, platforms made decisions that divorced them from serving users. All of them traded trust for status, and they grew into the low trust Big Tech oligarchies they are today.
All except for Twitter.
Twitter is substantially different from the likes of Instagram and Facebook because it never fully divorced itself from its founding purpose. Twitter was, and still is, the place where things happen, and this purpose is worth defending.
When Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the rest of social media banned high profile accounts like President Trump, it caused an exodus of users from those platforms.
This signals that Twitter’s product solves a deep social problem that other products, like Meta’s portfolio, do not address.
Smart people have long argued that Twitter was undervalued because it harmonises with technology and human nature so perfectly. There’s truth in this; Twitter’s UX feels more like a core technology – a protocol like SMS or HTTP – and deeper than a product.
Jack was smart to keep Twitter true to its roots. He never followed Zuckerberg by radically evolving the product from its original purpose to unlock more revenue. Dorsey knew that Twitter taps into something deeper in culture and humanity that simply shouldn’t be fucked with.
Twitter is a system, and like any system, the parts can change without meaningfully changing the system itself. If the function and purpose is intact, the system will live on.
Godspeed team Twitter and Elon 🚀