Twit Show

In the words of Ian Malcolm: Well, there it is. The long-running saga of if shitposter extraordinaire Elon Musk would own Twitter is now over. It comes as no surprise that a man who impulsively signed a purchase agreement could not get out of it, no matter how much he tried. As of last Friday, the company is his.

The immediate changes were swift with him cleaning out the executive suite. Again, no surprise. In leaked chats, he showed no affinity toward Parag Agrawal, the now-former CEO. The Twitter.com homepage was redirected to the service's Explore section, which surfaces everything trending on Twitter. For years the URL pointed to a sign-in/up page with no content.

Things are still in the rumor stage, but Twitter's paid "Blue" offering may jump from $4 a month to $20. This would be a requirement for a Verified checkmark too. Given the number of people on Twitter who are verified (and need to be), this is either going to cause a major influx of cash for that feature alone or those verified users will use the service less.

There are so many unknowns right now. Twitter has been inhospitable to regular users for so long that it is a legitimate question to ask if any change can restore order and make it a place of positivity. Dave Winer, a person who developed the technology that enabled podcasting, put it this way:

Why would I leave Twitter? It’s like living in NY and not taking the subway. Sure it’s dirty and smells bad, but it’s how you get places.

Dave Winer

Winer has a point. Twitter is so established and is really the only alternative to Facebook Meta, it is difficult to think there would be an exodus elsewhere. Google+ had a good run, but ultimately was a failure of Google's dedication to growing a product. AppDotNet was a user-paid model that only lasted a few years. Some (like me) are giving Mastodon a try, but it is simply not the same.

But, the worst part of all, is Musk's need to meddle in things that have repercussions. Nilay Patel at The Verge wrote extensively about this. Here's a smidge of the complicated net Twitter policy changes will face.

...Both Texas and Florida have passed speech regulations that overtly tell social media companies how to moderate, in open hostility to the First Amendment. Figuring out how to comply with these laws is not an engineering problem (not least because compliance might be impossible). It is a legal problem...

You can’t deploy AI at this problem: you have to go out and defend the actual First Amendment against the bad laws in Texas and Florida, whose taxes you like and whose governors you seem pretty fond of. Are you ready for what that looks like? Are you ready to sit before Congress and politely decline to engage in their content capture sessions for hours on end? Are you ready to do any of this without the incredibly respected policy experts whose leader you first harassed and then fired? This is what you signed up for. It’s way more boring than rockets, cars, and rockets with cars on them.

The Verge

Time has shown that society can support two social networks, but not much else. TikTok and Instagram aren't really in this category as far as I'm concerned, given they're more about creating content and sharing them with people.

Given how fast Elon is moving to implement changes, the picture of where things are going will become quite clear sooner rather than later.

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