Well, I continue my trend of using questions as headlines for my Media Bullseye posts, but this question is actually relevant and important! A comment on my post on my personal blog regarding the most recent Twitter outage (which resulted in users losing followers and friends) implied that because Twitter is a free service, users shouldn’t necessarily raise such an uproar when things go awry.
I can’t help but respectfully disagree with that analysis. It’s true we don’t pay to use Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, or any of the multitude of services and social networks available to us. But I argue this: there’s a reason that Facebook is valued in the billions of dollars. Our eyeballs have value.
The debate over how Twitter may or may not be monetized one day goes on, and it will likely eventually happen, via ads or some other method. But that monetization won’t mean much if the users become so alienated by the frequent issues with the site that they flee.
Now, this seems remarkably unlikely to happen–there is no more loyal group than Twitter users. Last night’s issues were corrected (almost) rather quickly, but even if they weren’t would they have been the straw that broke the camel’s back?
Either way, I think it’s important to note that free or not, if you’re providing a service you should take steps to ensure that it’s working properly. I’m certain that the hardworking Twitter team works tirelessly to attempt to correct these issues, but the fact remains that the site is the buggiest one to which I belong, and I am getting frustrated.