The Bifurcation of Twitter

In case you haven’t noticed, there are now 2 Twitters.

The first Twitter operates just as its founders intended. Its a great broadcast medium for quickly distributing quick hits of information and/or links. Its a great source of real-time information that travels with you on any device.  Its the ultimate enabler of “if information is important to me, it will find me”.   On all levels, this version of Twitter is succeeding for its users.

The second Twitter is not so pleasant. This version of Twitter is the home for hate and ridicule.  It’s where everyone and anyone can quickly create an account and spew whatever venom they choose directly at the target of their derision.  Lisa Rinna recently got into it with a follower who criticized her appearance.  My timeline is filled with people with 1 or 2 followers who apparently set up an account purely to curse or condemn me and others.  It takes the fun and return out of Twitter when you look at the tweets  people send you   and its full of people hoping you are in a car accident , get knifed or just plain cursing you.

Every medium has its problems.  Every medium also has a hassle vs return equation as well.  If the hate numbers continue to increase for twitter, so will the hassle and the likelihood that those who invest time towards using Twitter as it should be used will choose to stop using it.

The anonymity of Twitter has value, but like Myspace in the early days, what worked for it in the short term, could work against it in the long term.  If Twitter doesn’t come up with a solution for the quantity of hate being published, the door will be open for others to pre – empt and replace it.

33 thoughts on “The Bifurcation of Twitter

  1. Someone once told me, “Life’s a game. Play the game.” It would seem that you feel it’s ok not to play, and that’s certainly your right, however, I don’t believe choosing not to play is a viable alternative, at least in this case.

    Now, the Federal Income Tax, On the other hand…. 🙂

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  2. Anonymity makes people very “brave”. They write things they would never say face to face for fear of retaliation. It is like guerrilla warfare. Hit and hide. … It is the price we pay to play the game. The alternative is to not play. My feeling is I will play because the negative feedback means nothing to me. If, in the future I feel differently I can always quit Twitter. Nobody is forcing me to play. I survived decades without it.

    Comment by mrduke2 -

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  4. @twbray While you’re right, you can unfollow someone, they’re still capable of following you, and you would still receive their @replies. Block and report spam is the way to go 🙂 Of course, I wear this as a badge of honor, however, I tweet differently than most….

    Comment by Matches Malone -

  5. Anonymity certainly has its drawbacks. It’s too bad you have to deal with that stuff. But I do wonder if your experience is exceptional since you’re a celebrity. I’ve never once encountered hate or vitriol directed my way in two years using Twitter. If I did, I’d block the user and never see the messages in my timeline. I anticipate it’s quite a different thing for someone like yourself. Still, it’s a mistake to think your experience as a public figure is a broader problem for the 99.9% of Twitter users who are regular Joes.

    From MC> You are fortunate. Its not just high profile people who have the problem. Stalkers go after whoever their twisted minds choose to go after. The problem w blocking is that even after you block someone, it takes 10 seconds to create another account and continue your stalking. Whats worse, if they are tech literate, they can use the API to automate the process and really be a nuisance.

    Comment by brianmorrissey -

  6. I think that Twitter will continue to thrive in its’ limited role. I do not think Twitter will be here to stay as a top dog though… I just think people are going to get sick of it for a variety of reasons, lack of anonymity being one of them. I wish I knew what the next big social media platform was going to be…

    Comment by jamakmfg -

  7. Pingback: The Bifurcation of Twitter | Mark Cuban | Voices | AllThingsD

  8. Mark,

    I want to submit my business plan to you. Where can i go about doing this? Its a social networking website for independent musicians. The over head is very low and the profitability is very high. We already have a beta ready to go and a blue print for profitability. Look at myspace? sold for billions? SonicBids made millions their first year? The market is right and we are offering so much more than the other sites.. Let me know


    Comment by ivito10 -

  9. Hey Mark, interesting comments and I agree there are some issues with type of “open” medium. I tend to see the wider issue as access. I mean it goes with out saying that people will abuse this type of privilege. Sometimes when I read a news story I wonder why the media outlet allows comments when 30 of them are out to dish out a little hate. Then on the flip side, we all enjoy the ability to comment, like I’m doing here right now. Does there need to be a filter for access, is what I’m wondering? I mean perhaps those who don’t display a support for the medium need to be locked out. Is that too impossible? Just spit balling. And bad luck this year. The squad is good, maybe you just need a moster rebounder, someone who just owns the glass.

    Cheers JP

    Comment by JP -

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  11. Yeah I get tired of that too…but right now, I don’t know think it’s reached the level where risk > reward. I imagine you’re much closer to that point since you’re a public figure and you’re (our) team just lost in the playoffs. Either way Mark, you did everything you could do to help this team win a title. You don’t owe us an apology…although I agree with you, The NBA might (Danny Crawford and THE CALL of the series by Dick Bavetta on the Dirk charge). I’m a big Mark Cuban fan (in basketball & business) and I give you your props in my blog every chance I get. Keep it up Mark, let’s make some waves this summer and make a run at it next year.

    Comment by bjgomer13 -

  12. Mark, I’ve heard worse things said on the playground of an elementary school. I love you man, but I hope you just wrote this in an emotional trough over your loss to the Spurs.

    It’s not Twitters fault that other people abuse their service. I would also say that only high profile people (yourself included) are the ones that are targeted for this kind of online behavior.

    I read your blog because (1) I appreciate what you’ve done in the world of business (2) you have great insight on products, services, and companies (3) your motivational entrepreurial start-up posts are top notch and fire me up every time I read them.

    HOWEVER, when type in and see that you’re upset that someone “tweeted” something about you that maybe they shouldn’t have, and your feelings are hurt…it just makes me sad honestly. You’re so much better than that. It’s really hard for me to connect the dots of the streetsmart, cunning, adaptive, bright mark cuban that I thought existed, and the person that has shown through on this blog post.

    Just don’t read it. Be above the fray.

    Comment by swankyred -

  13. Pingback: Chirpir News | The Bifurcation of Twitter « blog maverick

  14. “Will it turn it into the next Myspace , a 2d place finisher behind facebook or some other competitor that doesnt let users hide behind anonymity”

    Would your opinion of them change if they posted their real names and photos of themselves? You censor people on this very site who don’t agree with you or, heaven forbid, actually point out real flaws in your thinking. When your brand is built on knowing something yet you are constantly being proven wrong, at what point does the damage to your brand motivate you to want to censor?

    I say that, if you are going to interact in a public forum, you take the bitter with the sweet. If your fame and success is based on the superficial, isn’t it common sense that you will be attacked for the very same reasons? Any celebrity can post a profile that is anonymous if they want to gain the benefits of Twitter without being attacked for superficial reasons. But many stars use Twitter to build their personal brands. I’d call those attacks “occupational hazards.” It can’t always be lollipops and rainbows for the rich and famous.

    Comment by sinisterx -

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  18. I think Mark has a point about the NBA giving his team a raw deal. The Mavs definitely got screwed when they lost 2006 Finals. Also, on other occasions. I usually root for Eastern conference teams so my opinion is totally unbiased.

    Comment by darryl3 -

  19. Seems like a great opportunity for a twitter app. Get a users’ replies, filter than through a “positive/negative” natural language algorithm, and spit back out only the positives. Whitelist the people the user is following (since they approve of their tweets). Wouldn’t be perfect, but has to greatly limit the amount of hatred that celebrities get.

    Comment by mateo2 -

  20. Sports, politics, religion. Probably the strongest places where hate can be spread, and generate the most. I guess you are not alone, and fellow s-p-r related people get the same amount of s**t on their twitter accounts. “Fortunately” not prominent people don’t have this kind of problems, but the fact that some users aren’t enjoying their experience is embarrassing. Stronger control over who can @ you should be enforced, or a way to upvote or downvote users.

    Good luck next year with the playoffs, this was a strange post-season. I thought the Mavs would make it.


    Comment by berenguel -

  21. From Can’t Stop The Bleeding:

    “Yes, how dare a member of the lowly public abuse a serious artist like Lisa Rinna, whose contributions to society and culture have absolutely nothing to do with her physical attributes? Who are these cowardly nutjobs who don’t understand that Twitter is supposed to be a one-way conduit between celebrities and the people who blindly worship them?

    For the record, I don’t hope Mark Cuban has a car accident. But I would hope he’d manage to not take the Twitter lingo “follower” so literally. Though the service does allow a user to block followers for any reason whatsoever, outside of virtual life, you can’t actually cherrypick whoever is paying attention.”

    Comment by elsalamigrande -

    • The point of the post isnt that I dont want to see these comments. I could care less what people write. The point is to question whether or not it will impact the future of Twitter itself. Will it turn it into the next Myspace , a 2d place finisher behind facebook or some other competitor that doesnt let users hide behind anonymity

      Comment by markcuban -

  22. This is obviously a problem for “high profile” people, which Mr. Cuban clearly is. For them, this is always a problem in some form or another, and the anonymity of the internet obviously brings out the dregs of society. But that’s not new.

    As for it being a problem for Twitter the company, I don’t know if I agree. Although their brand visibility has been driven on the backs of “high profile” people, they have such brand awareness now that I don’t think some celebrities quitting the service will affect their bottom line all that much. Not to mention that a lot of these people get plenty out of Twitter — they need attention all the time, and they can get it, in whatever measure they choose, at any time and place of their choosing.

    That will always be attractive to enough celebrities (Exhibit A: Ochocinco, Chad) to make Twitter a destination — for good and bad.

    Comment by negativesumgame -

  23. Mark,
    Just to add another example to your bifurcation theory:

    Trent Reznor, the front-man-founder of Nine Inch Nails (NIN) came to the same conclusion. After he and his now-wife had been continually harassed on twitter (by a weird group of groupie chicks, oddly enough) Reznor left, “…more harm than good.” He too, appealed for a system whereby abusers could be dealt with.

    In my opinion this just wasn’t any regular ‘band’ leaving twitter. Reznor and NIN have been on the forefront of successfully creating business models for delivering online music content in the midst of the record label industry one end and a torrent-ing world on the other; everything from intricate, viral, online marketing ploys (we’re a sucker for those) to stepped payment offerings for increasingly content-filled media (basic album is free, 5 bucks for the ‘good quality’ album + remixes, 10 bucks for the album and some music videos, etc.). More simply, he was someone with a real vested interest in keeping his online presence alive. However, confronting a certain level of harassment, he left. And in your bifurcation theory, that has to be realized:

    Reznor and yourself are atypical users, quality users. You are the middle-men of social networks, the real content creators, driving the system, creating the value, creating a reason people want to get on twitter.

    Yet, there is a ‘converse’ aspect is deceiving to the developers. The average twitter user is not facing this kind of harassment. The typical twitter user has the time and the (lack of) user-numbers to effectively police their own interaction, to block one or two people. So, the average user is not going to leave because of some small level of harassment and (this is key) modern online social networks are measured in units of 10’s of millions of these users. So until there’s mass exit on that scale, the developers won’t readily turn their heads. That’s why spam is such a primary concern. It affects everyone. Harassment? Not so much.

    But you know what will cause mass exit? The loss of quality of users. And that’s not something social networks will experience with any immediacy, that loss of quality users will cause a slow exit of mass users over a long scale, something much harder to identify.

    Comment by hashmarktechie -

  24. Pingback: Day after Playoff Defeat, Mark Cuban goes after Twitter | Dan On The Street - Sports and More from Dan Sheldon

  25. This post has nothing to do with ‘The Bifurcation of Twitter’, rather your comments after last night’s game. You said (and I quote), “I’m not so proud of the NBA,” as well as, “The last time I looked, five teams have championships out of 30.” Both of these comments infer that the league is the reason to blame for the Mavericks not winning a championship during your tenure, and that the NBA model is flawed.

    You ALWAYS seem find a scapegoat when you lose and it is ALWAYS something to do with the league. It’s never the man in the mirror….NEVER. For someone who has been so successful in business, this continuously comes as such a suprise to me.

    When things go wrong repeatedly, most successful business people do one of two things; (1)change their product, model, philosophy and thinking to serve the masses or (2) get out all together.

    I’m not a Mavs season ticket holder or even a fan. I don’t live in Dallas or even the States. And I certainly don’t side with the suits. I just saw the agony on your face last night and am tired of hearing you not getting it. I think you’ve reached a critical point with your organization, your fans, and yourself as an owner.

    My two cents! Good luck to you.

    Comment by csew -

  26. Here’s an interesting column comparing Twitter to CB Radio.,2817,2351932,00.asp

    Comment by trip1ex -

  27. I imagine sports is only second to politics in bringing out the haters. I get a lot of that because I blog about politics and health care reform. “Just” be the change you want to see i the world (It’s not always easy) and ignore them. I refuse to let people stop me from using a tool I find useful because they want to be unpleasant.

    Comment by francinehardaway -

  28. I use Twitter to get news links and direct message friends. Occasionally, I’ll post but it’s pretty rare. I have also found it useful to get customer service from companies via Twitter just so I can have a written record of our communication. This comes in very handy.

    The reason I don’t use Twitter more to just speak my mind has everything to do with this Ugly Side of Twitter you’re talking about here, Mark.

    The haters, trolls, comment snipers, whatever you want to call them…

    They’re basically just people who derive pleasure and satisfaction from verbally abusing others.

    Who knows what motivates them? I’m pretty sure most are just ineffectual people who use Twitter to belittle others because they are unhappy with their own lives. To get satisfaction, they attempt to draw others into an argument through insults and taunting and win the ensuing verbal battle or “flame war.”

    And the anonymity the internet affords them is a perfect shield for their cowardice. Pretty twisted I know, but there you have it.

    The upside of this situation is that we get to peek inside people’s minds to see the ugliness lurking there. It helps keep me on my toes, and reminds me not to trust too quickly.

    Comment by sudojudo -

  29. Mark, I too am sorry about your loss last night. I live in Vail, CO, and by default am a Nuggets fan, but every time I see Nowitzki play I’m astounded at how quickly he moves, and how well he shoots for a seven footer. Anyway..
    Someone criticized Lisa Rinna’s looks? What’s there to be critical of? She’s gorgeous.

    You know, Twitter certainly isn’t the only social media site that brings out the bad in some of us. I just left a CNN site that was discussing Arizona’s new immigration law. Some of the posts there just floored me! The ignorance and blatant racism displayed there made me sick to my stomach.
    I know John Mayer just moved over to Tumblr, stating that Twitter is no longer for him. Tumblr certainly does offer more options for expression; but just like Twitter, it’s a two way street.
    I suppose in the end, all we can do is what Tim Bray said above; delete the followers we don’t want to see. It goes with the territory, like it or not.

    Comment by solidsight -

  30. Mark, You are right as usual. Anonymity brings out the worst in people, and will ultimately kill social networks that don’t require identity. Anonymous comments on blogs and web sites allow people to say things they would never say in front of any person.

    Being a very visible public person attracts a lot of this unwanted attention. It comes with the territory, but it still stinks. Always be yourself and remember this quote;

    Bernard Baruch: Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

    BTW, great to see you blogging and Tweeting after a very tough loss last night. Today starts preparation for the next season. Build on strengths and correct weaknesses. The Mavs have had an amazingly successful decade of 50+ win seasons. Now on to the next decade.

    Don Dodge

    Comment by dondodge -

  31. He is not talking about who he is following…sure you can easily unfollow people.

    It’s all the people who “reply” to you or simply address you by “@whatever your username is” that you see their comments. Those come through to you whether you follow that person or not.

    I had a friend who unintentionally offended an acquaintance and she ended up having to close out her account for a while until that person left her alone. I’m sure many public figures have the same problem you do Mark. It is a shame, because Twitter is great in so many other ways.

    Comment by scoutpost -

  32. Uh, I’m missing something. Someone says something stupid on Twitter, I unfollow them, I never see their swill again. That’s why it works. Maybe more important, I’m choosy in picking whom to follow.

    Sturgeon’s law: 90% of everything is crap. Certainly applies on Twitter. The good thing about Twitter is it’s extra-easy to ignore the 95%

    Comment by twbray -

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