Twitter Hits 10 Years Old, But Is It Still Relevant?

Twitter is teetering on the edge of irrelevancy a decade after the first tweet was sent winging across the social networking site.

On March 21, 2006, software developer revealed the new project to the world.

Jack Dorsey did not have much to say.

After all, he only had 140 characters to play with plus his username to fit into the space.

He typed: “just setting up my twttr”, hit send and made history.

Twitter wasn’t the first choice name. Status, Smssy and the edgy Friendstalker were rejected.

Twitter flew in the early years. In 2007, just 5,000 tweets a day were flying around the world, a year later, the number hit 300,000 a day and in 2010, 50 million.

When the company went to Wall Street in 2013, the share prospectus claimed 500 million tweets a day were passing between members.

The current figure is unavailable, suggesting growth has stall or fallen. The share price has seen a 50% cut in value and 300 staff were made redundant.

What is Twitter for?

Ten years on, Twitter is an enigma.

Why do people send tweets? No one seems to know. It’s a social networking site, but is sliding into irrelevance.

Shunned by millions in favour of Facebook, investors and users can’t make up their minds how to leverage the service.

Celebrities and businesses believe a Twitter presence is essential, but monitoring and searching conversations is difficult.

The hunt for followers means thousands of people add an account to look trendy and having millions of followers means nothing if they are passive or inactive.

In 2012, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone admitted research revealed the service would fail because no obvious use was identified.

Nevertheless, Twitter is still with us and has a darker side.

Flying into oblivion?

Terrorist groups such as ISIS have propaganda accounts to attract recruits and secret conversations in code between militants.

Activists in the Arab Spring revolutions communicated via Twitter.

GCHQ and the US intelligence services admit that they monitor Twitter for insurgent or militant chatter.

Twitter still has plenty of cash in the bank from investors but struggles to monetise the service through advertising despite the heavy presence of brands promoting their goods and services and running customer service desks online.

According to Jack Dorsey, Twitter is what you make it – and although the service has flown the nest into public ownership, an ugly crash landing is lurking in the future.