Can Twitter Sell?

Last month, the tech world was abuzz about who would be acquiring Twitter.  Some of the biggest companies on the planet, such as Google and Disney, were preparing bids for the service.  Yet none of these came to anything, and Twitter remains on its own.  While a steep asking price was one thing that deterred a lot of potential buyers, there was something else as well: the site’s reputation as a haven for Internet trolls who abuse other profiles.   

In a report that cited information from Disney “insiders”, Bloomberg said that the entertainment giant, known for its family-friendly image, were hesitant to sign a deal with Twitter for fear that its darker side would harm its image.  This darker side also gave Salesforce doubts about purchasing the social media maven.  Twitter is a great social media tool, and there are some amazing accounts on there, but it’s hardly perfect.  It often serves as a battleground for online “flame wars”, where people can use short blurbs to express their anger.  Since Twitter first became popular more than seven years ago, it’s hosted some major celebrity feuds, but has also been used by things far more sinister than a soundboard for Taylor Swift’s “haters”.  For example, it’s popular with the tech-savvy terrorist group ISIS, who uses it to share execution videos.  

Historically, Twitter has turned away from implementing major changes to stop user abuse on the grounds of free speech.  This idea is firmly ingrained into Twitters’ founding ethos, and Twitter fears that changing it would inhibit growth.  Yet this fear of inhibiting growth might be what stops Twitter from growing altogether.  If Twitter just becomes a free-for-all where people can say whatever they want, then that might harm any potential growth by tarnishing the company’s reputation.  How Twitter will adapt without compromising its principles, or if it even can, remains to be seen.  

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