Musk’s purchase of the cesspool that is Twitter won’t change a thing
Twitter is dead, long live Twitter.
If you haven’t heard, the Twitter board has approved the hostile takeover bid from Elon Musk. That means Elon Musk now owns Twitter.
It’s impossible to fully sum up what this means, as the populace is still grappling with the news. There is no concise way to grab every hot take and every opinion on the subject. But that didn’t stop them from flowing out into the void.
Everyone has a different theory on what this means for Twitter, but not everyone was commanded to spout theirs onto an online tech blog by their editor. And away we go!
When does the Twitter exodus start?
Almost immediately after the news broke, The Verge tweeted a link to a post titled “How to deactivate your Twitter account”. Some people claimed they were going to move solely to Mastodon Social, a smaller Twitter-type social network that’s been around for a while.
There are other smaller social platforms built in a similar way to Twitter, but none have taken off. Will this be the catalyst for success? Doubtful.
How many times over the years have we seen people seemingly fed up with the platform? They post a ridiculously long thread about quitting before actually quitting, and then coming back a month later.
Social media is a drug. We’re addicted and we’re not going to detox that easy. The only way there will be a mass exodus from Twitter is if Twitter itself was to no longer exist. While that is an eventuality, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Think about Facebook. Facebook was almost singlehandedly responsible for the shift in how we consume news and information. Its rampant serving of right-wing propaganda and lies turned an election. Meta has made billions off the data collected from users.
The good of social media generally outweighs the bad, until it doesn’t. Every social media network has a shitty underbelly of filth and traitors.
While this isn’t totally an act of complacency, it’s the way these networks are built. Until we pay for the service, the service will be draining our souls through our smartphones.
Does this mean Trump and the hate train are coming back?
Musk, like many GOP politicians, suffers from the same thing many Americans suffer from: a blatant and deliberate misunderstanding of the 1st Amendment.
The commonly referred to free speech Amendment doesn’t state that anyone can speak their mind freely with no consequences, it means that those consequences cannot come from the government.
Hate speech is an exception, as is dangerous speech (the classic yelling “fire” in a crowded theater argument). This is where most of the confusion, conflation, and worry comes in with Musk now owning Twitter. Twitter is not, nor has ever been, the government.
So it’s logical to assume that Musk will blow the walls off the prison and reinstate those who have been banned because of their hate speech, misinformation, and dangerous rhetoric.
This would include the former moron-in-chief and his ilk, a villainous hive of alternate truths, conspiracy theories, racism, misogyny, antisemitism, and so on. That said, Trump told Fox News he isn’t coming back. We’ll see about that.
It’s too early to tell whether or not Musk will actually dip his hands that far into content moderation, but one would assume that the billionaire would meddle just because he can.
The thing about Elon Musk is that he’s popular on both sides of the political spectrum. There is just as good of a chance of him doing nothing as doing something that would empower the white supremacists.
After all, that’s what this is all about. It’s not about free speech, it’s about hate speech. It’s about thin-skinned white people whining they can’t spout their hateful rhetoric without consequences.
They screech about free speech, without understanding what in the hell that actually means. It’s about Elon Musk buying Twitter because he thinks it’s broken because he doesn’t agree with its policies. The thing is…
Twitter is broken and always has been
Twitter has always suffered from being too big for its britches. Content moderation on this scale is near impossible. Sure, banning Trump helped, but until all the spambots are gone and hate speech is eradicated Twitter is going to be a festering garbage dump.
The thing is, Musk might actually help with part of this. He wants to eliminate the spam and he wants to verify all human users of the platform. He’s got the financial resources to pull that off, because that kind of systematic change to the platform is a matter of throwing money and developers at it.
Whether or not Musk really takes a hands-on approach to the platform is TBD. Not to mention its effectiveness. This is a man who once stood on stage, claimed a truck window was unbreakable, then immediately smashed it.
There is the possibility that the changes he makes to the platform could end up being positive, same as it’s possible they may never happen. Regardless, the wait-and-see approach won’t cost you anything because you aren’t paying anything.
We have romanticized it for too long
Frankly, Twitter’s problems started long before Musk thought about buying it. It was the banning of porn on Tumblr that sent tons of problematic users to Twitter. That was a stupid decision by Verizon or Yahoo or whatever stale business entity owned Tumblr at the time.
Porn belongs on the internet, and it belonged on Tumblr, though the problematic users belong head first in a cement pool. That’s beside the point. Sex workers are workers. Anyway, porn is good but porn drives certain users to certain places. It’s a very sticky conversation, to say the least.
Twitter has allowed anonymous accounts to wreak havoc for years. It has allowed crypto scam accounts and Russian bots to thrive unchecked. It has been a terrible place to hang out for a long, long time.
We’ve had this strange relationship with social media that relies on advertising. We hate ads, but we need ads to keep the social networks alive. How will Elon Musk owning Twitter affect how Twitter advertises to us?
Advertisers will follow the users, as long as Twitter’s DAU doesn’t drop too much, the ads will still be served. Remember, we’re the product. Advertising is how Twitter keeps the lights on and Musk would have to make some seriously drastic moves to piss off advertisers.
The thing is, he can afford to keep the lights on without advertisers, which makes his off-the-cuff decisions that much more unpredictable.
Nothing matters anyway
The thing we need to understand about this purchase (which based on many of the tweets read today, is a concept lost on the masses) is that there is a lot of paperwork to sign.
This is not like buying a soda and popping the cap before walking out of the store. There are lawyers and legal shit that will need attending to. There will be endless meetings before anything changes. The deal isn’t set to close until later in the year, certainly not tomorrow.
What this means is that any changes are a long way off. Implementing even the simplest change takes time in development, sometimes testing, and implementation. Except when it comes to unbanning shitheads. That’s something we could see happen as soon as the ink is dry. Will it? See previous paragraphs.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter. You won’t quit. We can’t quit now, we’re too far in. The only hope is that the deal closes after the midterm elections. While Twitter hasn’t cleaned up all the trash, it’s trying.
Musk could deliver us a brand new Twitter experience. He could drive it into the ground. It could become a place so dark it couldn’t be hosted on the dark web. We live in strange times, and social media just highlights that strange, slaps us in the face with it, and makes us walk home through the mud.
That’s what Twitter is, and we damn well thrive on the pain. Whatever happens next is going to define a generation. Just kidding, it won’t mean a goddamn thing except we’re all subjugated serfs in a world of petty billionaires.
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