Vine has been granted a stay of execution. The company announced that instead of shuttering its service completely, which it was expected to do some time in the new year, its app will live on as a video-recording tool used to publish six-second loops via Twitter or saved to a smartphone's local storage.
Twitter announced in October that it planned to kill the viral video service in "the coming months" as part of the company's broader efforts to remain independent. It also said that it planned to cut its workforce by 9%--which would require it to lay off about 300 people--and redesign its service to be more friendly to newcomers. All of these changes, the company hoped, would allow it to turn a profit some time in 2017 and placate its shareholders.
That would also require the company to keep existing users happy. So it released new anti-harassment features in November to make it easier for people to block words, phrases, and conversations from appearing in their streams. And, instead of making it easier for abusers to reach their victims by offering limited controls over push notifications, Twitter made it so muted content wouldn't be sent to someone trying to avoid the platform's trolls.
Getting rid of Vine might have made financial sense, then, but it seemed like an odd choice from a user's perspective. The video service is one of the truly fun aspects of Twitter. It's not often used to snark on the news, argue politics with strangers, or participate in the vitriolic cycle that happens each day. Vine is where creative people share often-funny videos that offer an all-too-short break from the seriousness permeating much of the social web.
Here's how Vine and Twitter put it in their most recent blog post:
Thank you for the culture that you have helped shape, and for the content you’ll continue to make everywhere. You make the world a funnier, weirder, richer, more beautiful place.
Vine was also one of Twitter's experiments that people rushed to instead of dismissing off-hand. Reminding people that #Music was a thing--hashtag and all--is getting tiresome, but it's worth remembering that one of Twitter's biggest attempts to expand its influence is hardly a footnote (or would it be clef note?) in the company's history. Facebook has many different products and features; Twitter has Vine and the Periscope live-streaming service.
Now it's just down to Periscope, and even that's being lassoed in closer to Twitter's main offering. At least Vine will be able to continue on as a ghost of its former self through the Vine Camera app scheduled to debut in January, a coming feature that will allow Vine users to find each other on Twitter, and the ability to download videos published to its network right from its app or website. It's not the most auspicious ending, but it's better than nothing.