What a year for Twitter, huh?
The end of 2022 was a pretty awful time on the ol’ microblogging website, with Elon Musk’s takeover and subsequent shitstorm of idiocy, disorganization, and outright strangeness. There is, frankly, too much to recap fully but, in short, Musk brought the worst people back on the platform, fired the majority of Twitter’s staff, and has rolled-out (then un-rolled-out) half-assed features like pay-for-play verification. Oh, and advertisers have fled because Twitter is basically unregulated in the interest of a misguided version of freedom of speech.
Sounds bad, right?
Well, buckle in, pal, because shit’s about to get worse in 2023.
Think about it: Where are any signs that things will improve? Elon’s brilliant tricolor plan for checkmarks? Please, someone grab my fainting couch. Quick, before the genius overwhelms!
In all seriousness, Musk has set up a perfect ecosystem for Twitter to deteriorate. A giant platform like Twitter doesn’t die in one fell swoop, barring a complete meltdown of the actual inner workings and servers because it’s so short-staffed of engineers. If anything, Twitter will transform in drips and drabs, becoming less fun, less usable, and more annoying. Like the social media sites of yore, it will die a slow, agonizing death.
Musk already re-platformed everyone who was banned. Look what happened with Ye (FKA Kanye West). Musk reinstated his previously restricted account, and the rapper promptly began posting heinous, antisemitic tweets. Ye got suspended, but for every world famous musician granted access to their account there will be countless more anonymous, hate-filled folks who get the same. Musk wants to grant all suspended accounts amnesty. I’m no boy genius, but I don’t think accounts that got banned for hate speech will radically show a change of heart.
Now think about 2023: As the U.S. enters into another presidential election cycle, Twitter will turn into a proverbial cesspool. (And it was already bad enough pre-Musk, but at least there were teams dedicated to correcting misinformation and banning hate speech.)
Former President Donald Trump has already announced he’s running again, and he and his supporters have proven to be — how do I point this gently — the fucking worst on Twitter. Trump, whose account was reinstated by Musk, has held off on posting, but his supporters will no doubt push all the worst conspiracy theories on the platform to aid their big guy.
Normal Election Twitter in and of itself is insufferable: Pundits posting constantly, “experts” prognosticating off polls, everyone treating each moment like a new disaster. Election Twitter is a frenetic, busy place full of rumor and misinformation and opportunities for hate and, uh yeah, I’m sure Musk’s skeleton crew will be able to handle it.
It’s not that I want the worst for Twitter. But I feel comfortable saying absolutely nothing Musk has done gives me any hope it will improve. He’s not actually a free speech absolutist or someone who understands Twitter like its most-engaged user base. Everything he’s done indicates he’s just a red-pilled billionaire out of touch with reality who believes conservative grievance-mongers truly suffer for their grift.
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So of course the company appears to be failing. And as Twitter treads water — desperately offering advertisement deals like bargain bin CDs — it’s tough to see how Musk will fix things. The ship is leaky, water’s coming in, and he’s trying to fix it by bailing with a shot glass (meaningless $8 subscriptions) instead of a bucket (ads). But that’s not totally why Twitter will be worse next year — after all, Twitter was barely profitable before Musk’s tenure.
No, it’s that Musk just doesn’t get it. He’s in his own little bubble, and he doesn’t seem to care to learn. When an army of sycophants tell you that you’re the one true Tech God for years, you might just start to believe them. I’ve written this before, but he’s like a frat bro who buys a bar. Going to a bar is fun; owning a bar is work. Tweeting cringey memes can be fun; owning Twitter is not.
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Musk’s prime directives at Twitter seem to be, in some order, tweeting about owning Twitter, doing code reviews, and publicly firing employees. So sure, he tweets a big game about things like improving child safety…then guts the team that actually does that. He complains, incorrectly, about Twitter’s speed on Android…then fires the employee who corrects him on the causes of the issue and offers solutions. Musk feuds with congressmen, walks back COVID-19 misinformation policies, and mocks issues important to Black Twitter employees. Where is the value added? Where are things going right? We’ve seen zero evidence of anything helpful or good.
The vision from Musk seems to be shitposting his way through debacle after debacle. I’ve licked my finger, stuck it in the wind, and forecasted the only direction for Twitter in 2023 is down. We’re all on the metaphorical roller coaster, and this thing is whooshing toward the ground. I would tell you enjoy the ride, but we all know it won’t be fun.