This week the Social Media company Twitter was privately purchased by Elon Musk and now faces an uncertain future.
There are many things I don’t care about Mr Musk and some of them are:
- Picking a fight with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine
- Tesla’s connection with Xinjian, China and the draconian repression of Uyghurs
- Some Pro-Russia bias
- Seeming to side with US right-wing radicals and extremists
- The tendency to say insane things
So, for Twitter the fears are:
- He will place the whole system behind a paywall
- Trump and other right-wing characters who have previously been banned will be allowed back on
- The platform will be a free-for-all for hate speech creating an exodus of users
The First Day
As soon as the procurement went through Mr Musk already fired some of Twitter’s leadership simply because, so I understand, he just didn’t like them. However, there have been some legal arguments between them so maybe that was the case. Also, some regular employees have been dismissed too. Musk already said he’d fire 75% of the staff, I guess in order to make the company more financially viable that would be necessary.
Currently, the company has Twitter Blue which users subscribe to have access to advanced features. Will those subscribers vanish given that they don’t believe in Musk’s lack of ethics?
A paywall will mean the end of the platform for many users since they just can’t afford it given the economy the state is in and rising prices. The more that unsubscribe from Blue the less income the company will have.
A number of human rights organizations have written to advertisers that use the Twitter platform urging them to boycott should Musk open it up to hate speech and disinformation. Certainly, if there are fewer users on the platform they less likely they will be to sell their products anyway.
When Trump was banned from Twitter it was applauded by many, some complained it was too late and if it had been done earlier the 6th January Insurrection wouldn’t have been as bad as it was. One can block Trump and even mute words containing that name but users will still provide commentary on everything he says, which I could not take.
Twitter is currently full of disinformation and hate speech, a day doesn’t go by without seeing something that will shock and disgust users. I wonder what the likelihood is that Musk will do something about the fake accounts. Will it get worse under him as he opens the floodgates to anybody? I reckon the latter is more possible, unfortunately.
On Twitter, this appeared to create shock waves for users:
- Some users have already vanished
- Others said they would be closing their accounts soon as they can
- Some are saying “I’m not going anywhere” suggesting they will not be bullied off the platform
- Many have been talking about how awful Musk and Trump are
- Those on the right wing have been celebrating “oh, he’s one of us”.
So, if people have to go, where should they migrate to:
- It appears that Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, is coming up with a new social media concept called Bluesky Social, currently reaching Beta.
- Mastodon looks very similar to Twitter, I know a couple of people who have created accounts there – my profile is here. I notice the European Commission is on there so it must be attracting some high-profile people.
- Counter Social looks like TweetDeck, not very user-friendly at first but worth checking out – my profile is @stevendrowe, profiles are not public unless a user pays for the subscription, also, certain “high-risk” countries are banned.
I’ve been on Twitter since 2008, that is 14 years, and have picked up a great bunch of connections both business and acquaintances, it would be a shame to lose them all now. That is the way it goes I guess.