Is Twitter too relevant to fail? Last week Twitter’s announcement that it would be making 336 employees redundant, about 8% of its workforce, prompted many to ask this question. The catatonic share price, and the reappearance of founder Jack Dorsey as CEO, are hallmarks of a corporate crisis even without the inevitable job cuts. A world without Twitter or with a radically changed Twitter is now unimaginable, as if television went off air in 1963 and never came back.
There is journalism before Twitter and journalism after Twitter. No single company has ever had the power to report and disseminate events with the speed and geographic reach of the network. America holds its first television debate for Democratic candidates, Donald Trump livetweets it. If London Bridge is closing down, Twitter provides the eyewitness reports and pictures ahead of the broadcast news media. Journalists when they wake in the morning don’t first switch on the radio, they reach for their smartphones and scroll through Twitter. Their subjects and sources, from politicians to pop stars, do the same. While the vast majority of the social network-using world is on Facebook (1.2 billion active users versus Twitter’s 300 million), and its children are on Snapchat, the free press is still rowdily assembling on Twitter.