Why Twitter Needs “Domain Names”

Twitter has been having a rough time. It’s losing users, and its share price is dropping. I use Twitter a lot, but I understand why users find it confusing. It can be hard to get used to the way things flow in your timeline, and it can be hard to know who the people are behind their @handles. (Mine is @mcelhearn; you should follow me.)

@davemark over at The Loop posted an article today discussing Five Things Twitter Just Promised. Dave excerpted part of a Twitter shareholder letter, and highlighted promises such as:

First, Twitter is an iconic service and a globally recognized brand. We are going to fix the broken windows and confusing parts, like the .@name syntax and @reply rules, that we know inhibit usage and drive people away.

But the problems go beyond that. It can be hard to know who is tweeting something, or if they’re tweeting on their own or for a company or organization.

I’ve always wondered why Twitter doesn’t have domain names. I don’t mean twitter.com; they have that. But domains for Twitter users. For example, take a company like Apple. They have a number of Twitter accounts, such as @AppStore, @AppleMusicHelp, and some Apple executives have accounts, such as @tim_cook and @cue.

But Twitter could make it easier to know who works for a company, or at least who’s using a company account. They could create a domain name. It could be something like @Apple/TimCook, or @TimCook/Apple. They could find a special character to separate the domain name from the user, so a company could buy a domain, and then control all the accounts with that domain.

This would also help with news organizations, whose reporters generally have personal accounts yet tweet about their work. Instead of knowing who CNN’s leading tweeters are by their names, a @CNN/WolfBlitzer account would make it obvious who the person is affiliated with.

Twitter could both make some money (though they shouldn’t charge much for this) and simplify things for new users with domain names.