Elon Musk is looking into the Twitter archives for ways to improve his newly acquired social network. His team has told engineers at the company to look at Vine’s code to figure out how much work it would take to revive it, according to a current employee who spoke to The Verge on the condition of anonymity, as they’re not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
Axios first reported the news, saying that the reboot could be ready by the end of the year. That’s an aggressive timeframe to revive a five-year-old app, especially given this tweet from former Twitter product director Sara Beykpour that some of Vine’s code is over 10 years old. But that seems to be a pattern with Musk; this weekend, Twitter employees were told they’d have until November 7th to implement a program that would force a monthly fee for blue checkmarks or they’d be fired.
On Sunday, Musk tweeted a poll asking if he should bring back Vine. When Twitter was a public company, it purchased the six-second looping video service in 2012, before its launch in 2013. As of Monday afternoon, “yes” was winning, with around 69 percent of over 4 million votes. (I’m certain the Chief Twit is very pleased by that number.)
Given that we’re just a few days after Musk completed his $44 billion purchase and fired the board and other executives, the situation at the company is very fluid. The Vine source code probe could be as much about testing out engineers as it is about actually reviving the service; though Musk has denied reports that he wants to fire 75 percent of Twitter’s employees, it does still seem like there are plans for layoffs at the company.
If Vine does come back, it’ll exist in a very different world than it did in the early to mid-2010s. For one, TikTok is a thing, and it feels like every other social media company has copied its model of short, looping videos. Musk has already started crowdsourcing information on how to compete with the platform, though, and Twitter could always take a different approach; Vine could become part of Twitter itself instead of a separate app like it was originally, or it could have some unique catch that makes it stand out.
But those sorts of details are putting the cart way before the horse. For now, all we know is that Musk is considering it, along with several other changes at Twitter that may or may not come to pass. Still, for those Vine diehards out there (a group that includes me), it could be a faint glimmer of hope that we could once again be doing it for the Vine.