Essays on Technology and Culture

Twitter Rearranges its Deck Chairs

This isn’t about stars versus hearts, or favorites versus likes. Changing a single icon without changing the basic functionality of a feature is basically shuffling deck chairs around on the SS Atlantus. The ship has already run aground. Twitter’s job is to free their ship and get it out to sea, before the action of the waves slowly turns it into a rotting hunk off the coast, fit for little more than a tourist attraction. That’s the problem Twitter under Jack Dorsey is facing down, and it is, so far, failing spectacularly.

Less than a day after the heart issue, Twitter’s only African-American engineer, who was downsized after Dorsey’s return, blasted the company’s abysmal diversity. Elsewhere, Brianna Wu revealed that since Dorsey’s return, Twitter’s response to harassment has fallen through the floor:

Not that Twitter’s ever been great about dealing with harassment, but it’s shocking and saddening to see what little progress they’ve made disappear under the new, old leadership of Jack Dorsey. Perhaps their community management team was also a victim of the layoffs.

It’s a long running joke in Tech Twitter about every announcement to Twitter’s board of directors or major hire that nobody at Twitter actually uses Twitter. Every action since Jack’s return to the company has driven that narrative home. There’s a disconnect between what Twitter actually needs to improve its experience for new users, and what it thinks it needs to do, probably due to the influence of Wall Street analysts who demand to see big numbers.

For too many people, Twitter is synonymous with online harassment. Who would wade in and start tweeting away when the wrong post could lead to being on the wrong end of pitchforks? Twitter Moments, changing favorites to likes, giving stock to employees, incomprehensible TV ads, these are solving the wrong problems. Jack, stop moving the deck chairs, and start patching the leaks and push the ship out to sea.