So, the deal has finally going through, and Elon Musk is the new owner of Twitter. The first thing I wanted to do when I heard this was check on those who swore to get rid of Twitter if Musk ran it. Would they have fidelity to their promises? My lady friend pulled down all of her data and said she was cancelling her account. This would be a big move for her, as she is a fairly voracious Twitter consumer. No more cute cat videos or political snark. Predictably, when I asked her about it again, she just hadn’t gotten around to it and then the next time I saw her, she was doomscrolling on the site.
I’m not a fan of Mr. Musk, but I’m not dropping off Twitter just yet. It seems like a situation where you can wait and see where it goes. However, I don’t trust the new proprietor, even if he has been saying some of the right things in the past couple of days (while carrying a sink and insisting that his presence at Twitter HQ will have to “sink in”).
Manton Reece, the owner of Micro.blog, has some words on the subject.
The common digital “square” should be the entire web, with a diverse set of platforms. There should be common APIs but many communities with their own rules, goals, and business models. Concentrating too much power in only a couple social media companies is what created the mess we’re in. The way out is more platforms, free to make the best decisions for their users knowing that there are options to leave and less lock-in for developers.
He’s absolutely right. Like it or not, though, Twitter is the common digital town square we have right now. I’d love it if more people decamped from the fractious confines of the dominant microblogging platform and gave Reece the business his network deserves. I don’t envision a mass exodus, though. People who are more technically literate and aware than most are still just now discovering the 5-year-old microblogging service.
Charlie Warzel goes through all sorts of scenarios in which Musk actively destroys Twitter with incompetent meddling, but then eventually concludes with a different outcome.
Living, breathing things do one thing quite reliably: They eventually die, for all kinds of reasons. They die of natural causes, or because of direct harm. They die because of unforeseeable events. Musk very well could kill Twitter out of malice or hubris, or through calculated, boneheaded decisions. But one possibility seems more likely than others. If Twitter dies at the hands of this billionaire, the cause is likely to be tragically banal—neglect.
Predictions aren’t usually my stock-in-trade, and I’m not going to speculate too much on what will happen with a Musk-owned Twitter. I am pretty sure Musk is too addicted to hearing his own voice on a global platform to neglect it. In the end, I’m just glad I’m no longer tethered to Twitter, as an investor or as a user. Every so often, I think maybe we should all just move over to Mastodon.