Mossberg: Twitter has become secret-handshake software

“Hardly a day has gone by recently when people interested in tech haven’t found another alarming headline about Twitter. Departures of major executives. Worries about growth in users. Questions about how it can bring in more revenues. Plunging confidence in the company on Wall Street. Predictions of its very doom,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “But, underneath all that, Twitter’s fundamental problem is this: it’s too hard to use.”

“To potential new users, it’s a real challenge to learn all of Twitter’s often arcane little features,” Mossberg writes. “And even for people who have been using the service multiple times daily for years, like me, it can be tricky to decide when to use which feature and in which situation.”

“Basically, Twitter has become what I call ‘secret-handshake software’ — something that’s so complicated that, as in a secret society, only insiders know the rituals that unlock its power,” Mossberg writes. “That has to stop. New Twitter CEO (and co-founder) Jack Dorsey needs to tear out a lot of this stuff by the roots and rebuild the service in a clearer, more accessible form. The trick will be to find a way to do this that’s both inviting for new users and still attractive to Twitter addicts.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Mossberg is right on target. Twitter holds much promise, but too much of it is unrealized due to unnecessary UX complexity.

As Twitter struggles to fix itself, the good news is that it has enough cash on hand to last 412 years – January 25, 2016
Twitter considering 10,000-character limit for tweets – January 5, 2016
A possible ‘Steve Jobs moment’ for Twitter’s Jack Dorsey? – June 12, 2015
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is out, Jack Dorsey named interim CEO – June 11, 2015


  1. I’m still confused by why millions of people care WTF “people” such as the Kardashians or Oprah or Trump etc. are doing every moment of their lives to the point that they need a continuous stream of information from these “celebs”. OMG, is the world so well off that we have nothing left to do but to live vicariously though others rather than go out and get our own lives?

    True, the real purpose is so Twitter can track even non-users around the web with their tracking beacons that are imbedded on almost every lemming’s web page. And then link your entire web activity to your real life one the moment you reveal it somewhere to make a purchase….and then sell that information to everyone and his brother. Or course, those who signed up with Twitter for “free” already gave that away. And before someone brings up the idea that this information gets “anonymized” let me state that research shows just how easily it is to un-anonymize such aggregate data.

    I suppose Twitter exists because the market saw a need to to play on people’s inherent humility or low self esteem. Its egalitarian nature lets Everybody Can Be Important because if they can amass “followers” they are by definition “leaders”. Sure, go ahead, feel good about yourself.

    That said, I can see some useful but very limited utility for the product – emergency alerts, work-related important news etc., but none that overweigh the privacy-busting nature of the product and its utter inanity. I only hope one day that the sheep all wake up from their dream (a la Carpenter’s classic movie They Live).

  2. I used to follow a model on Twitter that would post semi-nude photos of herself. Then she started posting photos of food that she ate . . . then I had that reflective moment, “Why the hell am I looking at daily posts of food on a model’s Twitter account? — What’s wrong with me?” . . . that pretty much sums up my Twitter experience.

  3. Mossberg is an old fart, Twitter is easy enough for a child to use. The problem is that it’s an echo chamber for SJW (Social Justice Warrior) savages who want to stifle free speech. Hashtags for non-leftist causes don’t autocomplete, hateful and even violence-inciting speech by leftists is allowed while mild criticism of leftist causes is censored. Twitter, which has claimed to stand for free speech, has taken sides with totalitarians to stifle it, no wonder they are tanking.

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