A text-first social network that’s centralized, fast to post, and simple to consume should always exist. Twitter looks to be actively imploding (though it will probably limp through, like MySpace), and I think Google — more specifically YouTube — should just bite the bullet and replicate it.
Yes, there was Google+ and that was fundamentally chasing Facebook. As such, it had a community feature (instead of all content going into the same firehouse), while posting was equally geared towards long-form text. Twitter’s brilliance is the lightning speed at which you can post and go through your feed due to the 280-character cap. That restriction has not been replicated globally by anybody and is the key thing a Twitter competitor needs to get down perfectly.
The biggest actual limitation of creating and managing a social network is content moderation, which is not an easy problem in one country alone, and then the problem is greatly magnified worldwide. That’s the biggest bottleneck to any platform surviving, and this greatly benefits the incumbents that already have a global moderator system in place.
That leaves Google, Meta, and TikTok, while WordPress and Tumblr might be contenders to lesser degrees. Meta already has Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, any of which in theory could add a Twitter layer — of sorts. Zuckerberg’s problem is that any effort would initially suffer from an enthusiasm gap. However, if Twitter continues floundering, I think people will eventually flock to it.
It’s possible that a technically-savvy but not currently “social” company could replicate Twitter, but again they’d have to scale up moderation very quickly and that could lead to early stumbling blocks and threaten the long-term future. Reddit comes to mind, but I don’t think by-subreddit moderation necessarily scales to a centralized service. However, they’re one company to watch.
Again, if nobody else tries, I think Facebook will eventually take it. Google should genuinely give them a run at it before that happens.
YouTube is best suited for this endeavor as it already has the fundamentals in place from moderation capabilities to an account system (especially with the recent rollout of handles) and a sturdy cloud infrastructure. It already allows channels to create text posts and of course has one of the biggest comment sections out there.
The YouTube brand would greatly bootstrap a Twitter initiative, and there are various other integrations that Google proper could benefit from. A direct messaging system isn’t necessary, but could be interesting down the road. Meanwhile, the video integration is a given, while it could be a better way to disseminate YouTube Shorts as it battles TikTok.
This competitor could offer a premiere picture experience with Google Photos, which was one thing Google+ was great at. Another good idea from G+ worth revisiting is the concept of Circles for more private sharing.
At present, Google is on a clear cost-cutting and efficiency drive. Doing a social push, even through YouTube, is a gamble, but it’s better than ceding without a fight to Facebook or somebody that doesn’t have the experience.
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