Twitter’s future

So Elon Musk is planning on buying Twitter. I say “planning” here because the deal hasn’t closed. But let’s assume it happens. What will it mean?

Not a Musk fan

I’ll be blunt: Elon Musk is a charlatan who gets a lot more credit than he deserves. I don’t doubt he’s a smart person, but being the richest person on the planet has allowed him to engage in unrestrained buffoonery. Whatever his areas of expertise, they clearly don’t extend to understanding tunnels. The best thing he could do would be to leave Twitter alone, but you don’t spend $44 billion to not play with you new toy.

But free speech!

No. Elon Musk doesn’t believe in free speech. He canceled someone’s Tesla order for saying mean things. “Free speech” arguments are almost never about anything other than “I should be allowed to say what I want without consequences.”

Free speech, as envisioned by absolutists, is only free for those with power. If your free speech is used to harass others into silence, the platform does not promote free speech. I’m fine with letting the Nazis and democracy subverters go off to any of the other Twitter-like sites they’ve set up.

So what next?

The key question is “to the degree they left, will the Nazis and democracy subverters come back to Twitter?” I can’t say. For now, I’m not planning to leave Twitter. If it becomes intolerable, I’ll go. To where? Good question! Mastodon holds no appeal to me for a variety of reasons, but maybe I’ll move there at some point. Maybe I’ll just drop that form of social media from my life.

It seems more likely to me that Musk will discover that running a social media site is less fun than criticizing a social media site and get bored. He does have two other companies to run already. Three if you take The Boring Company seriously. While he certainly could do damage, I hope that it remains the shitty hellsite we’ve come to hate. After all, Twitter has mostly succeeded in spite of itself.

2 thoughts on “Twitter’s future

  1. I’m with you on this, 100%. The *best* possible outcome of all this mess is that Twitter stays the same horrible cesspit it is right now (that I left six months ago, and do not miss much). Worse outcomes—and I consider these more likely—are that it becomes much more like 4chan/8kun. Like the world needs more of those.

  2. I primarily use Twitter like a very-open IRC channel, and I like that. I’m able to learn from and interact with some of my favorite SF writers, computer security leaders in academia and in industry, several of the best guitarists of the rock era, and many people active in my programming language community. Because of my Follow Friday thing, there is a solid core, mostly people I met IRL (or In Zoom Life), who I tweet at more than others, but if it was JUST that core, we’d get bored with each other quickly.

    I’m hearing lots of people saying Instagram (honestly, I think Zuck’s worse than Musk and the conversation and automation tools are crap; I’m more likely to drop I even if the Hellsite’s infested with even more, even worse nazis) and Mastodon (nerds self-select to go there, so it’s hard to find the authors, comedians, musicians and artists to add the amusing surprise I treasure Hellsite for.) They’ve evolved to be a Threaded-Comments-Section-as-a-Service, and I love them for it.

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