User Burnout Could Threaten Twitter's Prosperity
By Ryan Nakashima, AP Business Writer
AP File Photo: Megan Fox left nearly a million followers dangling when she checked out of Twitter in January, explaining that “Facebook is as much as I can handle.” Twitter burnout among celebrities, athletes and shameless self-promoters poses a risk to the company and its investors as Twitter Inc. prepares for its Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 initial public offering.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- They loved it. Now they hate it.
A growing number of celebrities, athletes and self-promoters are burnt out and signing off of Twitter. Many have gotten overwhelmed.
Some people built big audiences on the short messaging service only to have their followers turn against them. Others complain that tweets that once drew lots of attention now get lost in the noise.
As Twitter Inc. prepares to go public this week, the company is selling potential investors on the idea that its user base of 232 million will continue to grow along with the 500 million tweets that are sent each day. The company's revenue depends on ads it inserts into the stream of messages.
But Wall Street could lose its big bet on social media if prolific tweeters lose their voice.
Evidence of Twitter burnout isn't hard to find. Just look at the celebrities who - at one time or another - have taken a break from the service. The long list includes everyone from Alec Baldwin to Miley Cyrus to "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof.
Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt lamented "all the negativity" she saw on the service when she quit, temporarily, in July. Actress Megan Fox left nearly a million followers dangling when she checked out in January, explaining that "Facebook is as much as I can handle." Pop star John Mayer deleted his account in 2011, saying Twitter absorbed so much of his thinking, he couldn't write a song.
"I was a tweetaholic," he told students during a talk at the Berklee College of Music.
If Twitter turns off celebrities who have a financial incentive to stay in close contact with fans, how can the company prevent average users from becoming disenchanted?
For some users, Twitter tiredness sets in slowly. At first, they enjoy seeing their tweets of 140 characters or less bounce around the Web with retweets and favorites. But new connections soon get overwhelming. Obligation sets in - not only to post more, but to reply to followers and read their tweets.
Many users conclude that Twitter is a time-sucking seduction and turn away. One who calls herself patrilla$$$thrilla excitedly tweeted "first tweet, wocka wocka" just after she joined in July.
On Wednesday, 161 tweets and 27 followers later, the romance was over. She quit to "fully enjoy the little details in life I miss because I'm too busy here," she tweeted.
The cacophony creeps into everyday life. Twitter fanatics tweet from the dinner table, during a movie, in the bathroom, in bed. Vacations can seem like time wasted not tweeting.
The over-doers suffer from a "fear of missing out" (or FOMO), says Tom Edwards, vice president at themarketingarm, a Dallas-based advertising agency. "Managing our virtual personas, including all of the etiquette that comes with, can be tiresome, especially for those with large followings."
It happens -even to people who ought to know better. Just ask Gary Schirr, an assistant professor who teaches a course on social media at Radford University.
In August, while vacationing on a beach, Schirr felt a pang of withdrawal because he had stopped tweeting to his 70,000-plus followers. Then he saw an old condemned house about to be washed away and posted a photo to Facebook and Twitter. He felt relieved when the likes and retweets rolled in.
"You feel forgotten if you're not out there," he says. "It's another sign of addiction. You feel bad if you don't tweet."
Prolific tweeters stay engaged partly because there are real benefits to a big following, which usually requires tweeting a lot.
Journalists who have large Twitter followings have used them to land better-paying jobs because every click on stories can make more money for their new employer. Actors can land roles on TV or the movies if their digital audience is expected to tag along.
Matt Lewis, a columnist with The Week magazine, says his Twitter following is like "portable equity" that gave him an edge over more established writers earlier in his career. He's now got nearly 33,000 followers.
Even so, one of Lewis' more popular stories is titled "Why I hate Twitter." It goes into why the social network became, for him, "a dark place" overrun by "angry cynics and partisan cranks." He became demoralized by the criticism, but he couldn't pull himself away.
"It's also like a prison. You can't check out," he says.
Today, Lewis rarely interacts with his followers and hopes the service will come up with new ways to filter out the hate tweets. "Why should I be harassed if I look at my (at) button?" he says.
But he remains amazed at how Twitter has helped him reach new readers, and after some 67,000 tweets, he isn't giving it up.
Others find that as more people join the service, the deluge of tweets can drown out individual voices.
So says Bob Lefsetz, a music industry analyst who writes an email column titled the Lefsetz Letter.
Twitter, he wrote in July, is "toast." "Over. Done. History." His follower count isn't rising as quickly as before, although it's still a respectable 57,000-plus. And his tweets don't see as much action as in the past, which he attributes to too many people tweeting "too much irrelevant information."
"In the old days, I'd get 20 retweets. Now I'll get none," Lefsetz says. "It makes me not want to play."
Along with the potential for burnout, there's also the risk that Twitter becomes uncool to the younger generation, especially when services such as Pinterest and Instagram are a tap away.
Devon Powers, an assistant professor of communications at Drexel University, says many of her students have moved on to Snapchat. But there can still be pressure to keep up with the other services.
"There's all these new obligations to update and report and check in," she says. It can make dropping offline feel like a relief.
"If I get really busy, the first thing I stop doing is checking Twitter," she says. "I'm living my life. I'm not having a commentary about it."
Follow Ryan Nakashima on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rnakashi
More Business News
Last Update on September 02, 2015 17:17 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. productivity in the spring rose at the fastest pace since late 2013, while labor costs declined.
The Labor Department says worker productivity increased at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the April-June quarter. That was a rebound from the first quarter when productivity had fallen at a 1.1 percent rate.
Labor costs fell at a 1.4 percent rate in the second quarter, indicating that wages are not rising even as unemployment declines.
The 3.3 percent productivity gain represented an upward revision from a month ago when the government had estimated a more moderate rebound of 1.3 percent.
Even with the strong gain in the second quarter, productivity over the past year has increased by just 0.7 percent, continuing a weak trend seen through this recovery.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories posted a modest gain in July, helped by the biggest rise in motor vehicles orders in a year and a solid gain in a category that tracks business investment plans.
The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 0.4 percent in July. Orders had increased a much larger 2.2 percent in June.
For July, orders for motor vehicles posted a 4 percent advance, the largest gain since July 2014.
A key category that tracks business investment plans climbed 2.1 percent in the strongest gain in 13 months.
The modest increase in factory orders in July showed that manufacturing is still struggling with a variety of problems, from falling energy prices to a stronger dollar, which hurts exports.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. businesses added jobs at a steady pace last month, with construction and manufacturing showing solid gains, a private survey found.
Payroll processor ADP says that businesses added 190,000 jobs last month, up from 177,000 in July, but below a six-month high in June of 231,000.
The figures suggest that turmoil in the financial markets and worries about faltering growth in China have not yet had much impact on the U.S. job market. The government will release its official jobs report for August on Friday. Economists forecast it will show that employers added 220,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate slipped to 5.2 percent from 5.3 percent.
The ADP survey covers only private businesses, however, and frequently diverges from the official figures.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. banks' earnings jumped 7.3 percent in the April-June period from a year earlier as revenues increased and the volume of soured loans banks had to write off fell to the lowest level since before the financial crisis.
The data issued Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed continued improvement for the banking industry seven years after the crisis struck. The number of "problem" banks continued to fall and some big banks had reduced expenses for legal settlements following large amounts paid out previously to resolve crisis-related cases.
The FDIC reported that U.S. banks earned $43 billion in the second quarter, up from $40.1 billion a year earlier.
Nearly 60 percent of banks reported an increase in profit from a year earlier. Only 5.6 percent of banks were unprofitable.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Several of the top Internet-connected baby monitors lack basic security features, making them vulnerable to hackers, according to new report from a cybersecurity firm.
The research released Wednesday by Boston-based Rapid7 Inc. looks at nine baby monitors made by eight different companies.
The researchers found security problems and design flaws in all of the cameras they tested. Some had hidden, unchangeable passwords that could be used to gain access. And some didn't encrypt their data streams, or some of their web or mobile features.
Video baby monitors are very popular with many parents and the idea of someone else watching is frightening.
In addition, a hacked camera could provide access to other Wi-Fi-enabled devices in a person's home, such as a personal computer or security system.
GADGET SHOW-ANDROID MALWARE
BERLIN (AP) -- Malicious software targeting smartphones with the Android operating system is becoming more common, with some handsets already infected when they're bought.
A report by German security firm G DATA found that the samples containing such malware had increased by 25 percent in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year.
The company's 10th such report, released Wednesday, found that analysts could identify a new strain of malware every 14 seconds.
It says some phones by manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi contain modified apps designed to spy on users or display advertising.
G DATA spokesman Christian Lueg says the phones appear to have been installed by middlemen, but in tracing the source "we lost the trail in China."
Users can detect the malware with free software.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- U.S. transportation officials will offer $10 million in grants for states to upgrade highway-rail crossings and tracks in response to a recent surge in flammable fuel shipments.
Wednesday's planned announcement from the Department of Transportation comes as rail crossing collisions have increased over the past several years, following more than three decades of steady declines.
There were more than 2,200 collisions in 2014, killing 269 people and injuring 849.
Almost 40 percent of the fatalities occurred in just five states -- California, Illinois, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana.
Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg says most rail crossing deaths are preventable.
The grants would pay for improvements along rail routes that transport flammable fuels. Shipments of crude oil and ethanol increased dramatically over the past decade before energy prices plummeted.
BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) -- Blue Bell Creameries has resumed operations at a northwestern Oklahoma facility a day after the company's products returned to the shelves at select locations in Texas and Alabama.
The Texas-based company says limited production resumed Tuesday at the facility in Broken Arrow, a Tulsa suburb. The company said in a news release that operations will be limited at first to ensure that new procedures, facility enhancements and employee training have been effective. Products will only be released for sale after tests show they are safe.
The company voluntarily recalled its products in April after they were linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas.
A facility in Sylacauga (sihl-uh-KAW'-guh), Alabama started production again in late July.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Amazon's futuristic "Dash" buttons appear here to stay.
The e-commerce powerhouse is expanding the number of available buttons, which reorder products at one touch. It's also making them virtually free.
Last month Amazon launched the "Dash" buttons -- adhesive buttons designed to stick on any household surface near where you may need to reorder products -- for about 18 brands, ranging from Bounty paper towels to Tide detergent.
Now they're adding 11 branded buttons to the program, including ones for Ice Breakers Mints and Hefty trash bags. And for every $4.99 button customers buy, they'll get a $4.99 credit back into their account.
The buttons are available to members of Amazon's $99 annual Prime membership program.
FAKE DISNEY PARK-TRIAL
SHERMAN, Texas (AP) -- A man has been sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison for swindling investors with a fake story about a Walt Disney theme park in North Texas.
The judge also ordered Thomas W. Lucas Jr. of Plano to pay $8.4 million in restitution Tuesday.
Lucas was convicted on seven counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
Prosecutors say Lucas defrauded more than 280 investors out of about $20 million from 2006 to 2010. Those who paid for land in Collin and Denton counties were told it was on the edges of the future park. Investors hoped to sell the land to developers for a profit after Disney made an announcement.
The Walt Disney Co. has denied rumors of a North Texas theme park.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Sony Pictures is insisting that the Will Smith film "Concussion" was not "softened" to placate the NFL.
Emails leaked by last year's hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment revealed executives, lawyers and filmmaker Peter Landesman wrestling with whether "Concussion" would antagonize the NFL, and making changes to the film.
After a comprehensive review of those emails, The New York Times on Tuesday reported that Sony blunted parts of the film, in which Smith plays the first scientist to uncover the fatal effects of repeated head trauma suffered by many NFL players.
In a statement Wednesday, Sony Pictures called the Times story "misleading" and insisted: "As will become immediately clear to anyone actually seeing the movie, nothing with regard to this important story has been `softened' to placate anyone."
EGG GROUP PANIC
NEW YORK (AP) -- A California company that makes an eggless mayonnaise alternative has the U.S. egg industry scrambling.
The American Egg Board, which is responsible for the "Incredible, Edible Egg" slogan, waged a campaign to counter the emergence of Hampton Creek's Just Mayo spread, and even tried to prevent its sale at Whole Foods grocery stores, according to documents provided to The Associated Press.
The documents offer a sometimes comic glimpse into the alarm the group felt about the startup and its CEO, Josh Tetrick, who has said he wants to make the food system more environmentally friendly by replacing the eggs in an array of foods with plant-based alternatives.
Publicly, the American Egg Board has sought to downplay Hampton Creek as just another egg substitute and has avoided referring to it by name. But emails showed the board was troubled by the media attention being showered on Hampton Creek, whose big investors include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Hats from the HeartShow your support for breast cancer patients in our community.
The Human RaceCheck out videos on The Human Race here!
Side RoadsTake a ride with Brian Smith to explore the unique people and places to be found along the Sideroads of the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
The Good LifeCelebrating the events, adventures and activities that represent "The Good Life" in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
Closings and DelaysThese are the latest School and Business Closings reported to NewsChannel 9. If you see errors or need to add a school or business, call 423-757-7320.
Educator of the WeekView the 2015 Tennessee Lottery Educator of the Week!
Deaf & Hard of HearingInformation provided to NewsChannel 9 by members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
Sponsored EventsCheck Back Often for NewsChannel9 Sponsored Events!