On Thursday, Twitter announced in a Medium post that it would be shutting down video social network Vine, which it acquired in 2012. Nothing will be happening immediately, but the discontinuing process will be in “the coming months.” Users will be able to access and download their videos before the mobile app is completely closed. Fortunately Vine’s website will be sticking around.
The six-second video sharing service was founded in June 2012 and acquired by Twitter in October 2012 before it officially launched. Over the past couple of years, Vine became one of the most popular places for aspiring internet celebrities and heavily influenced more than just online culture. Vine became a force that impacted how people communicate with one another both online and in real life.
At it’s height, the app was huge — boasting over 200 million users. Teens, the typical early adopters of new technologies, started staying things like “Did you see that one Vine?” and “I did it for the Vine.” It started out as a place where they could record and post their silly antics in a creative new format of just six-second bursts. As more and more people began using Vine, there began to be all sorts of different videos that people would share: music covers, tiny skits, special effects, redubs, sports clips, and more.
Vine became a large cornerstone of today’s internet culture, thrusting forward online movements and providing a platform for creators. In 2013, people were obsessed with “Ryan Gosling Wont Eat His Cereal” videos. More recently, teens couldn’t stop screaming, “What are thoooooose?” at shoes. While they might be frivolous antics on the surface, they showed how jokes could be dispersed through the format of short videos and eventually influence others to partake in these trends. Vine built a community around these ideas.
It also changed language. The phrase “eyebrows on fleek” came from a short selfie video of Viner Peaches Monroee. And when the slang caught like wildfire with the younger demographic, everyone was trying to figure out what it meant. Even Kim Kardashian touted how on fleek her eyebrows were.
Similar to YouTube vloggers and Twitter comedians, people began trying to become famous off Vine. Some were definitely successful with building up huge audiences, eventually securing marketing partnerships and acting opportunities. An adult might not know who Paul Logan or Mikaela Long are, but the legions of youth that avidly use Vine sure do.
Some people really did hit the jackpot from Vine fame, like Shawn Mendes. The 18-year-old whose dreamy voice currently dominates radio stations went from Vine sensation to music superstar. Before he was famous, Mendes had been uploading YouTube covers for a while, but didn’t get any major attention until he started posting snippets of him singing to Vine. Eventually he racked up millions of followers and loops, all while a sophomore in high school. His major following on Vine was vital in getting 200,000 downloads of his first single “Life of the Party” on iTunes without any marketing from the label or airplay. This past year, Mendes joined the ranks of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus as one of the five artists with got their first two No. 1 albums at such a young age.
Vine also played a major role in activism. The social network was pivotal during the Ferguson protests and throughout the Black Lives Matter movement to showcase the civil unrest spreading throughout the United States. This sort of documentation was integral to building momentum and dispersing information to people all over.
Furthermore, Vine has served in the current election season as a means of political humor. So many of the presidential hopefuls’ awkward moments have been distilled in Vines for viewers to watch and laugh at on repeat.
Unfortunately, it’s a crowded market. Every tech company is trying to utilize video, especially social media outlets. More recent competitors like Snapchat and Instagram have made it hard for Vine to shine as brightly as it used to, especially when so many Vine videos get ripped and become compilation videos on YouTube and Facebook. It’s even lost its viral edge — the famous “Damn Daniel” video from early 2016 was originally posted to Twitter. And Twitter is also facing financial hardships, planning on cutting 9 percent of its workforce to become profitable by 2017 — with native video already a feature on Twitter, it decided that a separate video social network wasn’t worth supporting.
When the news broke that the internet would have to say goodbye to Vine, the site went viral one last time. People started sharing their favorite clips from over the years, deluging Facebook and Twitter with an outpouring of love that serves as a testament to Vine’s cultural impact over the years, blurring the line between online and real life. And while Vine videos may only last six seconds, they’ll forever be burned into the internet’s history.