As Long As the Fail Whale Haunts It, Twitter Shouldn't Launch New Features

Last Updated Jul 29, 2010 11:42 PM EDT

Apparently, Twitter made public a feature briefly yesterday that would let users share embedded video and photos in the service, something that could turn's miles of text and links into a multimedia free-for-all. While some can contemplate the implications this might have for things like public posting of porn, I'm not so worried -- Twitter will have a hard time handling the overload, and that's the core issue.

Since Twitter isn't talking, little is known about how exactly this would work, and how bandwidth-intensive it would be. ReadWriteWeb (which is worried about the aforementioned porn), speculated that perhaps Twitter would only display thumbnails in the stream, which might be easier for the fragile system to handle. But if I were Ev Williams and Biz Stone (Twitter's founders, if you're that out of the know), I'd chuck the whole idea until Twitter is capable of handling a bunch of simple, old text in the off-chance that, say, someone actually scores during the World Cup. Then, guys, go ahead -- futz around with adding pictures to the service all you want.

It's always possible that Twitter feels forced into this by Twitter clients, like Twitpic, that do give more of a multimedia spin to Twitter. But no matter. As much as people like to complain about how Facebook manages itself, you can say this about the company: it has a stated goal of making sure that above all else (even user privacy, one could argue), it wants to provide users with a stable experience.

Twitter has definitely been playing 800-lb. gorilla lately with some of the third parties who have built services off its API -- just ask, which directly entered Twitter's cross-hairs when Twitter launched its "Promoted Tweets" earlier this year -- but that doesn't mean it should mimic them. As the straw that stirs the drink in the broad Twitter universe, Twitter should focus on getting right what it already does first, before cooking up new features.