Micro-blogging giant Twitter turns six today. Happy birthday Twitter! But while we’re fans of the social network for the simple fact that it’s connected the world and brought news to our attention like never before, it still has some severe downsides for a service boasting 200 million members. These are the six ways that Twitter’s still complete and utter bobbins.

1. Spambots

What started as amusing novelty in has since turned into a real blight. The spam Twitter accounts number in their millions and cover a wide range of topics, which means that you can tweet about just about bloody anything these days and find yourself instantly @messaged back by someone claiming to be selling you tickets, or to have the secret to great abs, or to be in possession of a really funny picture of you that they just can’t believe. OMG smiley face.

It’s like someone throwing a bundle of leaflets for local takeaway businesses in your face every time you step out of the front door. Only they’re not local, and there’ll be no pizza at the end of it. Spam is a problem with arch-rival Facebook too, but not in this sort of unsolicited, in-your-face fashion. @Horse_ebooks is alright by us though: “You will know that you have the ability to start your own Hair Salon!” Yes indeed.

2. Hashtag confusion

Hashtags sit on every TV show ident now, a glaring reminder that you shouldn’t be watching the show in question, you should have your face slammed into your phone and tweeting about it. TV execs love it because it’s a measurable means of gauging involvement. And, to be fair, it adds an extra layer to watching TV.

But hashtags should stop there. Your mate who loves to exercise his humour by way of #reallylongandannoyinghashtagsthatnootherhumanswilleveruse isn’t funny. It’s just a pain to read. The long hashtag, used to bookend Twitter hilarity, should be banned. As it is, they only serves to aid the below issue:

3. Shameful trends

If a charity cause or really breaking news story reaches the top of the trending topics, that shows Twitter doing what it does best: using a hive-mind to surface the biggest, most important world events in real time.

When racist, ridiculous or just plain indecipherable stuff appears towards the top of the trending list, all it does is highlight that Twitter’s full of idiots. Offensive hashtags like #Stuffblackpeoplesay and pointless joke-offs like #Thingsihateaboutsex just clutter up the social network’s most useful feature.

27 signs you’re a d*** on Twitter

4. Shonky direct messaging

It’s the dark horse of Twitter functionality, tucked away in a corner and not talked about, in case it gets angry and smashes something. DM is terribly implemented in Twitter, there’s no two ways about it. It’s bad because no one’s ever quite sure how to use it, and bad because it’s dogged by security issues.

US Rep. Anthony Weiner famously fell into the DM trap last year, when he sent a picture of his penis as a public tweet by mistake. Hey, it’s not the most difficult of mistakes to make. Then there’s the issue that private messages over 140 characters can infiltrate onto public feeds, among other easy hacks. The whole thing’s a minefield of uncertainty, which – for a private messaging application – renders it fairly useless.

5. Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck had a lot of promise as an independent entity, but then Twitter came along and chomped it up into its gluttonous beak. It’s not been the same since. The switch to HTML5 has added some niceties in terms of aesthetics, but that amounts to zero when the damn thing doesn’t load up.

Then there’s the fact that under Tweetdeck’s new, heavy-handed leaders, the ability to add Facebook accounts was lovingly ripped out. Correct us if we’re wrong, but wasn’t the whole point of Tweetdeck to provide a one-stop shop for updating and viewing multiple feeds?

6. Making money

Ah, the secret shame. For something with hundreds of millions of users, Twitter’s made a right pigs ear of turning any real profit. A recent report stated that, while Twitter saw its first quarter 2011 revenue tally at around $23.8 million, its various running, administrative, R&D and marketing costs brought that crashing down to a loss of $25.8 million.

It’s not being at all mean to say that the company’s first five years of business have been a financial joke, given its immense success in other areas. Every quarter that ticks by does so with a newly confident Twitter saying that’s about to change, but it never has.

…Oh, and then there’s the fact that Twitter acts as a playground for celebrity slanging matches.

  • http://twitter.com/tawalker T.A. (Tim) Walker

    With the exception of (2) (your opinion – I follow quite a few comedians, so long “comic” hashtags are par for the course), I’m right with you.

    In particular: if Twitter ever implements a “tweet a large electric shock to anyone responsible for a twit-bot” feature, I’ll donate for it.

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