I try to stay “hip” to the latest Internet innovations. I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Meebo, Google Latitudes, and yes, I’ve tried Twitter. After about four months of tweeting, however, I think I understand the Tweetosphere enough to draw this simple conclusion: Twitter, in its current form, will not change the Internet and could indeed be obsolete or replaced within one year.

This is a bold prediction and one that seems to go against all the hype and indeed the massive growth of Twitter. But there are three significant problems with Twitter that will prevent it from becoming a true Internet juggernaut – spam, one-way communication and poor ease of use.

First, the spam. Twitter is the ideal medium for spammers. They set up scripts to follow as many people as possible and then hope that those people are using an “auto-follow” program and will then follow them. I’m one of those suckers that auto-follows – when I started using Twitter, it seemed to be the thing to do. After about one week of auto-following, I was getting several hundred messages a day that could just have easily ended up in my email spam folder. To prove this point, I just logged on to my “TweetDeck” and looked at the last ten tweets I received. Here are some of the samples:

Learn all the stuff the Twitter Pros won’t tell you about! [Link]

Quick Ways to Make Money Online [Link]

Need more room to promote your product or service? Do it on [Link]


Of course, one obvious way to stop this junk is to stop auto-following, but then that supposedly diminishes the value of Twitter, right (if I just wanted to see what my friends were up to, I could look at my Facebook homepage). So my solution on TweetDeck – and I suspect I am not the first to come up with this scheme – was to create two feeds, one called “Friends” and one called “Actual Friends.” The friends feed is the stuff from auto-follows, I basically just delete these as soon as they come in. The “actual friends” feed is from people that I know and might actually care to hear from.

But even though I’ve basically removed the spam from my Twitter updates, there’s still problem #2 with Twitter – it seems to encourage narcissistic drivel. For some reason, people who are normally interesting and entertaining end up filling Twitter with boring, self-centered crap. Again, here’s some examples from my current TweetDeck:

WWE: Raw May 25th 09 [Link]

Ricki Lake is the New Sharon Osbourne [Link]

Listening to one of my new cd’s Jazz Moods – Jazz by the Fire. Sounds pretty sweet!

Great dinner at neighbors, beef brisket! Now it’s back to 5th grade math home work. Only 4 more days of school Yee Haa!

Now I know that some of these sound like they could be Facebook posts, but I actually think that few of these would actually make it on to Facebook. Why, because for whatever reason, people take their Facebook updates a lot more seriously. Maybe because they know that the only people who are going to see the posts are their friends, they edit themselves before posting. On Twitter, however, the same people who write interesting updates on Facebook often end up posting 25 140 character posts in the course of ten minutes, all of which are totally pointless.

So even if I filter out all the spam from people I don’t know (again, defeating one of the alleged advantages of Twitter in the first place), I’m still left with mindless clutter from the people I do know. Twitter has turned my friends into egocentric spammers – how do you filter that? My filter is just to stop reading tweets and rely on Facebook.

The last problem with Twitter – it is not user-friendly. Yes, it is easy to post a tweet, but it’s hard to organize the incoming stream of junk. This is why there is a myriad of Twitter applications popping up, like the aforementioned TweetDeck. For the first month on Twitter I was utterly confused as to how people actually got any value at all out of the service, until my friends Stacy and Don told me about apps like TweetDeck.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last ten years of Internet marketing, if you don’t make your service simple, you can’t scale (hello Second Life!). If you want to move beyond nerdy Internet geeks in Silicon Valley and get my parents and their friends in Iowa to start using your service, you can’t rely on third-party applications to explain the benefits to your audience.

Now I’m sure that there will be some who argue that my last point has already been disproven by the phenomenal growth of Twitter. But I think that this growth is the ultimate false positive, for two reasons. First, a lot of this growth is driven by people who just see Twitter as a one-way marketing channel – a way to blast a spam message to thousands of people for free and without any email spam filters or CAN-SPAM rules. Second, there’s just a novelty factor to Twitter right now. The media loves Twitter and the Twitter-craze is creating masses of new users who are signing up out of curiosity.

The problem with growth fueled by spam and curiosity is that it ultimately points to a “fad” and not a “trend.” The pet rock in the 1970s was a fad – people bought pet rocks because the media reported on it and it seemed like a funny thing to do. Then the novelty wore off and people threw their rocks away. To be a trend you need to prove value that ‘subverts the dominant paradigm.’ Twitter doesn’t do this. It’s a Facebook update without the functionality or self-editing of Facebook, but with lots of spam and a bad user experience.

In less than 140 characters: Twitter sucks. It’s over-hyped. It’s the next Second Life. Insert spam.bit.ly here.


  1. Carl May 28th, 2009

    Great post, I could not agree more! The media obsession with Twitter is partly what is driving this (such as GMA, but these guys/gals on this show are so full of themselves it is disgusting).IMO, the whole social networking craze is over rated and is for those with too much time on their hands.I have built my web site on hard works, articles and similar; with the exception of YouTube, most of the social networking has done little as compared to other methods and is vastly over rated.Carl StrohmeyerMy Opinions

  2. mike May 28th, 2009

    Wow, you were around for the pet rock fad?

  3. matt cutts May 29th, 2009

    nice inflammatory link bait.

  4. Company June 1st, 2009

    Well Twitter seems to be like the drum roll with no actual beat, I too do think that twitter may wear out in an year or so and the reason it has so many followers is because of the hype it has created including but not limited to social celebrities. We tried it for Company Formationbut was bombarded with spam =/

  5. Grunties June 3rd, 2009

    That pointless, banal drivel is exactly what those people want from Twitter. If you're tempted to tell the world every time you eat a bagel, chances are that when your friend posts that they've just eaten a bagel, you're stoked for them. Hooray for bagels!We're animals evolved from apes. Other apes groom each other as a social habit, but we've replaced that with our new ability – our social habit is talking. Apes who have already been groomed will still take part in the grooming, it's not about the grooming, it's about the social contact. In the same way, what we talk about doesn't have to be about anything meaningful, it's the contact with other people that we want rather than specifics of the content.You and I may be able to get by without it, find it annoying even, but Joe Bloggs can't. Twitter will have a healthy proportion of followers until basic human behaviour changes, regardless of the other flaws you mention.

  6. Anonymous June 3rd, 2009

    Following someone is deciding you want to read what they have to say, equivalent to giving your email address to someone.Auto-following someone is making that decision without any screening, equivalent to posting your email address in plain text on a forum.Why are you surprised that you're seeing spam?

  7. Anonymous June 15th, 2009

    Someone should tweet this post.

  8. Anonymous June 21st, 2009

    I also Twitter, especially with the all play it's been getting with regard to Iran. This is definitely the angriest anti-Twitter article I've read yet:http://www.inebriateddiscourse.com/2009/06/road-to-hell-is-paved-with-tweets.html

  9. David Rodnitzky June 22nd, 2009

    Thanks for the link – that guy is definitely angrier about Twitter than I am. I totally agree with his point about CNN quoting Tweets about Iran – ridiculous!

  10. Jason D July 14th, 2009

    really, all your post does here is show how bad you are at using twitter.Who auto-follows? I've been using Twitter since last year and this is the first I've heard of it, and just hearing about it sounds like a really dumb idea — for exactly the reasons you state. What's more, it's not even part of twitter — it's a function of certain twitter clients! So one of your big "twitter sucks" reasons is due to something that isn't actually twitter's fault? Huh?If your friends post stupid crap on twitter, time to unfollow them — again, not twitter's fault. Most of the people I follow are promoting news stories I want to read, or posting funny things (PaulaPoundstone — hilarious tweets).Saying twitter sucks because you don't know how to use it and are following stupid people isn't compelling.

  11. David Rodnitzky July 14th, 2009

    Ultimately, if I'm just following people who are writing interesting things, or following celebrities, how is this different than blogging, but at a much more inane level. The 140 character restriction just encourages people to post half-baked thoughts – indeed, it's virtually impossible to say anything of substance with that much space.Recommending URLs – that sounds like Digg, StumbleUpon, or Del.icio.us to me.So combine blogs, Facebook, and Digg and I have everything i need, only better, than what I might get from Twitter if I spend a bunch of time ferreting out the few good Tweeters from the masses of spam.

  12. Jason D July 15th, 2009

    "The 140 character restriction just encourages people to post half-baked thoughts – indeed, it's virtually impossible to say anything of substance with that much space."Then you're following the wrong people.Again, your article and comments say more about how you don't "get" twitter, and don't know how to use it than it does about the failings of the service itself. One could also make similar arguments about other pieces of technology."email? What's wrong with regular mail?""Fax? What's wrong with just sending a letter fedex overnight?""Search? Can't I just look in the phonebook?""PDA? I'll just carry my day planner!""Caller ID? I'll just only give my number to people I want to talk to.""text messaging? What's wrong with just calling them?""Yahoo! Messenger? I'll just stick with AIM, thank you.""Facebook? I'll just stick with Friendster, thank you!"Your rant on this subject puts you somewhere between luddite and old fogey-ism. I added the CDC twitter when the swine flu story first broke, — heck of a lot easier than combing the news for bits and pieces, and the CDC twitter was up to the minute. People use it for Amber Alerts, to learn more about a subject by following an expert who posts links to articles they like. It has value, just not for everyone, and you're not required to like or use it. Clearly it holds no interest for you, but that is not the same thing as it being useless in general.At the end of the day, these are all just options. Use or don't use them.

  13. Anonymous July 22nd, 2009

    Does anyone here know exactly HOW to disable auto-follow on Twitter? I opened a new account about a month ago and since then my account has been randomly auto-following people! It's ruining my twitter experience!

  14. Anonymous July 27th, 2009

    I couldn't agree more. I just read an article that Twitter is a flop in Europe.Speaking for the 50+ crowd (please understand that I really love technology), whatever happened to interacting with people in real time???We are growing further and further from person-to-person interaction and hunkering down into our cyberworld nests. IMHO, this is not healthy… people are supposed to interact with each other in a meaningful way.As much as we may try in the cyber-world, nothing can match eye-to-eye contact when interacting with another human being. We need to see the non-verbal cues so that we can learn more appropropriate social skills.As an educator, I'm seeing more generations of people who are socially inept and lack the skills to work out problems with others.Who needs to know when I'm eating a sandwich? Instead of technology making the world easier and more efficient, we are tethered to cellphones and laptops. Many corporate people are "on call" 24/7.We need time to unplug from the digital society and spend more time with friends and family in a slower, more relaxed pace. Technology has become a double-edged sword and the more dependent we become on it, the more deterioration we will see in our societies.

  15. Anonymous July 29th, 2009

    I have a whole different issue with Twitter. Let me tell you my experience after I was unable to login to my account. I get the message "username/password invalid."I'm still receiving my email "follower notices", but I no longer receive them on my cellphone. I contacted them 33 hrs. ago, and they sent me a "standard" email for things to check in this situation. Such as try to reset account, check my bulk folder, and how to derive "secure" passwords. Its been 33 hrs. since then, and I haven't heard hide nor hair from them since. I thought this problem would be fixed by now. If you were running a business, and you had your power turned off for 33 hrs., how would you feel? One big key is that with this problem I'm unable to "follow" anybody, even people that decide to "follow" me. Maybe, they have "suspended" my account. But, they haven't told me that, and I don't have any kind of notice on my Twitter page. I just wished they would let me know something or get this problem fixed. I'm furious with how they have seemed to ignore me.

  16. SEO service October 13th, 2009

    Using social bookmarking sites like twitter is a great help for people. Here, you will learn more because a lot of followers will also give their insight and through that, it will give you an additional knowledge about what is happening. So it means that you are more updated.

  17. Sara June 7th, 2011

    twitter, facebook and all tehe rest sucks!!!

  18. WHO CARES September 27th, 2011

    AMEN TO THAT after 3 years of hard work the scumbags shut down FACEBOOK and now Twitter accounts that cost me alot of money and time. They only want celebrities that get followed by millions of people BUT guess what that don’t pay the bills. In the end Myspace will be the survivor because i have never had a problem with them.
    I have become aware that their employee’s in competion with your affiliate marketing are shutting down competitve sites so that you can’t compete.


  19. madprops June 14th, 2011

    people are still using Twitter??? I guess they haven’t found out about Gsick

  20. sandro December 23rd, 2011

    lol i love this twitter sucks t shirt http://axolotwear.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=88

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David Rodnitzky
David Rodnitzky is founder and CEO of 3Q Digital (formerly PPC Associates), a position he has held since the Company's inception in 2008. Prior to 3Q Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies, including Rentals.com (2000-2001), FindLaw (2001-2004), Adteractive (2004-2006), and Mercantila (2007-2008). David currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. David is a regular speaker at major digital marketing conferences and has contributed to numerous influential publications, including Venture Capital Journal, CNN Radio, Newsweek, Advertising Age, and NPR's Marketplace. David has a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa. In his spare time, David enjoys salmon fishing, hiking, spending time with his family, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes, not necessarily in that order.