Why the disenchantment with Twitter?

This morning’s Observer column

For most of its short life, Twitter has had a good press, partly because of the way it has stood up to attempted bullying by lawyers and security authorities seeking the personal details of users. During the attacks on WikiLeaks after the release of US diplomatic cables, Twitter functioned as a way of bypassing the withdrawal of Domain Name Services (DNS) for the site, providing a workaround that allowed access to WikiLeaks. It also played a significant role in the Arab spring, especially in Egypt – all of which persuaded the world that Google might not be the only internet corporation that had “Don’t be evil” engraved on its corporate DNA.

Recently, however, Twitter has come in for some heavy criticism on two fronts. During the Olympics it suspended the account of Guy Adams – the Independent’s man in Los Angeles – who had been posting hyper-critical tweets about the awfulness of NBC’s coverage of the Games. Twitter claimed that the suspension was because Adams had broken its rules about not revealing people’s email addresses. Critics alleged that it was because of the fact that Twitter had a commercial arrangement with NBC, and that this had led it to curtail Mr Adams’s freedom of speech. “Twitter is becoming old media,” fumed one venerable netizen, Dave Winer, echoing the sentiments of some other netheads.