Chief Twit and the New Twitter
I didn’t create the title, Elon Musk did it himself.
Perhaps you’ve heard a little bit about Twitter in the news lately?
After the on, then off, then on-again buyout for $44bn it was hard to see where the messy sale of Twitter would end up. This is for a company that has been losing money for two years straight and has rarely been profitable since 2012 with the exception of 2018/2019. [figures from www.businessofapps.com]
We had the kitchen-sink-carry into the US headquarters. Plenty of Musk banter on Twitter posts that criticised his plans.
We had over half of the workforce get fired via email. Oh, and then some key people were rehired in less than 48 hours. Most of the top executives and CEO were sacked and some who weren’t resigned shortly after.
Only last Friday Musk announced that there was a very high possibility that Twitter could file for bankruptcy. All of this makes for a lot of hand-wringing and nervous advertisers, quite a few major ones which have paused advertising until the Musk-dust settles. Which isn’t really helping their financial stress!
What’s happening with other social platforms?
It isn’t just Twitter that downsized recently.
Other companies like Meta have recently laid off 11,000 people, Snap Inc. reduced their staff by 20% and other ad-reliant tech companies like YouTube and Spotify are in a similar bind when most revenue comes from online advertising only.
Even TikTok is also slashing global revenue targets, as reported in the FT.
The upheaval at Twitter, while creating mass attention has been a positive and there has been an increase in activity, which has certainly spooked advertisers.
All of the layoffs have created a content moderation issue and a surge in hate speech and the toxic side of the platform has been noticeable.
However, love him or despise him, we are bound to see the return of Donald Trump to the platform as he gears up for another stab at the presidency.
The return of The Orange One who has a knack for vernacular like the term ‘bigly’ may be seen by some as a repellant and inconceivable given the chaos he generated while on the platform.
But we know that Musk doesn’t want to discriminate, and wants to disrupt this mainstream media form to ‘elevate citizen journalism’. He is a fervent supporter of unmitigated free speech for all, describing himself as a ‘free speech abolutist’. But is it all going to implode into the Hellscape he wants to avoid?
It’s hard to keep up with the whiplash turns taking place almost daily. The grey check arrived, and then it went. Blue checks came and went, temporarily, at a cost of $8 per paid subscriber and are due to return, but the number of fake accounts that became ‘verified’ caused real chaos for some.
Will there be a mass exodus?
Many famous names have threatened, and some have already bailed.
Rival platform Mastodon has seen a surge in new users that coincided with the arrival of Musk and has now crossed the 1 million monthly active users threshold.
The relaunched blue-check farce did little to help with verification as the rash of impersonators were not put off by the $8/month fee. The issue was that actual verification wasn’t happening in what was described as blue-check-for-sale option.
Beyond Twitter, are we falling out of love with social media? It’s never going to go away now that we all scroll our poison of choice on a daily basis. But are we going to move away from the big names to smaller and less show-off/look-at-me platforms?
I guess we need to look at where the Millennials and Gen Z are hanging out these days. One of the newest ones trending is BeReal. Because maybe people are tired of projecting a perfect life and lifestyle.
You get a notification to your phone and wherever you are and whatever you’re doing (within reason I hope!) You take a picture of where you are and it automatically takes the reverse selfie as well. So you can’t hide that messy room. Your unkempt hair. Being real, get it?
It’s unlikely we’ll see the end of Facebook or Twitter, Insta or TikTok anytime soon. They don’t seem like the types to go the way of MySpace. But it’s possible that they will become less relevant as the generations who use them age or move on to the next big thing.
It’s a rocky road ahead
Elon himself says that Twitter is going to do a lot of dumb things in the coming months, and that they’ll keep what works and change what doesn’t. I just wonder if that will include moderating the activity like the rise of racial slurs by over 500% after his takeover.
If the increased activity is growing hate speech, it isn’t somewhere I plan on hanging out. The keyboard warriors who feel galvanised and emboldened by pounding out their feelings do love Twitter. If it continues I have a feeling I won’t.
Even though you can just scroll past it doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye.