Twitter might ask again, 'What are you doing?'

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Twitter has changed a lot in recent years, and especially more recently with a subscription service, Spaces, and the ability to remove followers. Some might say the social media platform is virtually unrecognizable from the platform they first joined back in 2006. 

Actually, I might say that but now Twitter is, according to Tech Blogger and code-sleuth Jane Manchin Wong, testing a new feature that takes me all the way back to my own first Tweet on March 19, 2007. 

Code-named "Vibe," the "Set a status" feature would let you show followers what you're doing right now.

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In the captured feature screen, there's a "What are you doing?" prompt with a dropdown list of options like, "Driving highway," "Shopping grocery," and "Lurking Twitter".

This might appear with your profile, possibly even above your tweets. Wong likens it to what Instagram Threads does with "Status."

I, however, see it differently.

When Twitter launched in 2006, the idea was to let followers (usually co-workers, colleagues, friends) know what you were doing at any given moment.

The service's tag line back then was quite clear: "A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?"

Twitter in 2006

(Image credit: Future)

The last sentence appears in bright yellow as if Twitter had run a highlighter across it.

That's right. The wording is exactly the same.

Fifteen years ago, I had no idea how to use Twitter, so I followed the platform's instructions and simply listed what I was doing: "Listening to TWiT. Eating a bagel. Drinking my coffee. Typing this note."

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It was arguably a terrible post, but it did answer the question, "What are you doing?"

The Twitter of 2022 is, obviously, a far different beast. It asks "What's happening?" It's a place to post what you're thinking, explore ideas, argue, and share a wide array of information, photos, video, and audio. It's a media platform.

Twitter, perhaps sensing that it has moved oceans away from its original intent, is thinking that just a little hint of the past - of its roots - might make Twitter more engaging, fun, and less of a self-serious place.

Instead of an angry tweet about the latest political debate or a pitched battle regarding Android versus iOS, there might just be an old-school status update, one that says the Twitter member is driving, walking, or eating a bagel.

I have no idea if Twitter fully plans to launch "Set a status" (I asked Twitter directly and it had nothing to share on the subject), but I think it could use this nostalgic feature, especially as it faces the prospect of new ownership (Hi, Elon Musk!) and maybe some significant changes that could, again, change the face of the venerable platform.

4-24-2022: Updated with Twitter's response.

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.