Twitter announced last week that it would eliminate Vine, the six-second, looping video application.
The decision to cut Vine sent shockwaves through the social media community, prompting protests from many Vine celebrities, or Viners.
Viners have created massive audiences, some with millions of followers.
For example, comedian Andrew Bachelor, better known as King Bach, is the most followed Viner, with more than 16 million followers. His videos have been looped more than 6 billion times.
Comedian Brittany Furlan, once identified by Time magazine as one of the most influential people on the Internet, has nearly 10 million followers on Vine and more than 4 billion viewed loops.
Both Bachelor and Furlan have large audiences on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but those numbers pale in comparison to their Vine followers.
Now Bachelor, Furlan and other Vine celebrities are forced to shepherd their fans from Vine to other platforms to see new content.
Don’t assume that’s an easy task for someone with millions of fans. The competition for viewers, fans and followers is fierce.
Opinions on why Twitter is abandoning Vine run rampant on social media.
First, Twitter acquired Vine more than four years ago. Two and a half years later, Twitter acquired the live-video streaming video app, Periscope. So a logical explanation would be that dumping Vine allows Twitter to turn more attention to Periscope.
Second, as noted above, our attention is massively fractured. We have become multiscreen content consumers. We watch content on several different screens and platforms, and we’re becoming very good at it.
Still, we can only focus on so many screens and so much content at the same time before things become literally and figuratively blurry.
The NFL is learning this lesson the hard way. When the NFL started offering games on platforms other than TV, viewers dwindled.
These splintered channels (some of which are available on Twitter) may be leading viewers who would otherwise be watching an NFL game to other unintended content on Twitter and other platforms.
If you go to Twitter to watch an NFL game, you might get distracted by a clever cat video, and then another, and another. You get the picture.
The truth is, Vine has been declining in activity and viewers for months. It was probably easier for Twitter to delete Vine and refocus on news and other features than it was to reinvest in a platform with features readily available on other apps.
According to Twitter, nothing will immediately happen to Vine. The website and Vines are still available today. In a statement released last week, Twitter claims they are “going to do this the right way.”
You’ll still be able to access Vines. The site will remain online because Twitter believes “it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made.”
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.