Vine Is Closing Down, and the Internet Can’t Stand It


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Vine, a six-second video app owned by Twitter, improved upon the best thing about Twitter — funny tweets — by adding audio and visual snippets.

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Preston Gannaway for The New York Times

If you picture social video as a colorful ecosystem full of emoji and chat bubbles, you really should try to think of it more as a jungle — a place where the strong eat the weak.

Periscope ate Meerkat. Instagram’s new video features might be chewing on Snapchat. And Facebook Live is trying to gobble up everything in sight.

The latest casualty is Vine, a six-second video app owned by Twitter. The app spawned some stars, among them the singer Shawn Mendes, and improved upon the best thing about Twitter — funny tweets — by adding audio and visual snippets. Some of it was total nonsense, and that’s why it was so great.

But with Twitter struggling to become profitable — and after the news that the company would cut about 350 jobs, or 9 percent of its work force — Vine said in a Medium post on Thursday that it would close down in the coming months.

What went wrong?

One theory: Instagram ate it.

Here’s what Mike Isaac, a tech reporter who covers Twitter for The Times, said Thursday about the view inside the company: “Vine never recovered from Instagram’s video launch a few years back. That threat of stealing users and market share was real, and it worked.”

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Gabriella Demczuk/ The New York Times

In May, the media website Digiday reported that many of Vine’s biggest stars had jumped ship, leaving for more profitable pastures, like YouTube and Facebook.

“Facebook and YouTube have much larger scale than Vine, so you can reach more people and make the most money there,” Esa Fung, a popular Vine user, told Digiday.

Another theory from our tech reporter: Vine was dead weight.

“If you have an entire division of your company that doesn’t make money and is a real resource drain, that’s hard to justify keeping it up and running,” Mr. Isaac said.

Why did people love Vine?

I can’t tell you; I’ll have to show you. Just know this: Vines turned nonsense into short bursts of hilarious art.

Vine also had real utility for sports fans, who used it to replay memorable moments from the arena and the field over and over again. Vines captured by basketball fans are particularly popular, but memorable memes in all sports were hatched.

On Thursday, DeRay Mckesson, a civil rights activist, was one of several people who pointed out that Vine gave protesters in Ferguson, Mo., a way to broadcast what was happening in the months following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black teenager, by a white police officer.

The footage captured moments of heightened tension between protesters and the police.

“I’ll always love Vine because that was all we really had in protest in the Fall 2014,” Mr. Mckesson tweeted. “There was no Twitter video and no Periscope back then.”

Tracy Clayton, who hosts the “Another Round” podcast at BuzzFeed, wrote in a series of tweets that Vine had given young minority performers a platform to express themselves and a way to grow a following outside the confines of conventional media.

“People love black culture, but they don’t like to pay black people for it. (Hi, appropriation). Vine wasn’t perfect, but it was a way to try and get around it,” Ms. Clayton wrote on Twitter.

So what happens to all those Vine videos?

Vine said that it would figure out ways for users to keep and store their favorite pieces of six-second art.

“We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way,” the company wrote on Medium. “You’ll be able to access and download your Vines.”

Still, some fans are not willing to let it go so easily.

Rus Yusupov, who co-founded Vine and sold it to Twitter in 2012, offered some words of advice for budding startup founders trying to enter the rough-and-tumble of the social media world: “Don’t sell your company!” he wrote on Twitter.

Correction: October 27, 2016

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article described incorrectly DeRay Mckesson’s activism. While he is a civil rights activist, he is not a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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