Twitter is dying | TechCrunch

Twitter is dying | TechCrunch

Twitter is dying | TechCrunch

It’s been five months since Elon Musk overpaid for a relatively small microblogging platform called Twitter. The platform had reached its weight in number of pure users thanks to an unrivaled capacity both to disseminate information in real time and to make expertise available. Combine these with your own critical faculty – to weed out the usual spam and bs – and it might seem like the only place online that really matters.

Even if the average Internet user remained baffled by Twitter, it contained essential ingredients that made it a go-to source for journalists or other curious types wanting to listen to conversations between interesting people – be they experts in matter or celebrities. So it was also a place where experts and celebrities could find a community and an engaged audience – without the need for layers of message filtering intermediaries. Twitter was where these two sides met and (sometimes) got tangled up in messy conversation.

There was an alluring (sometimes murderous) rawness to the midrange. Yes, you might get the thrill of the almost unvarnished opinions of celebrities on Twitter — at least compared to more organized social media feeds like Instagram. But the real attraction and power of the platform came from the incredible wealth of knowledge that any Twitter user could directly tap into – in all sorts of professional fields, from deep tech to deep space and beyond. beyond – simply by listening to a thread or slipping a question into someone’s DMs.

Twitter was primarily an information network; the social element came far behind. Although it’s had a noticeable margin as an unofficial dating app, it could be a great way to get a feel for someone’s personality without meeting them in person. (There are countless stories of people making friends or even life partners through dating on Twitter.)

The running joke became ‘how is this site free?!’ Because the interactions could be so remarkable – so spectacular or fascinating – that it was amazing to encounter that kind of closeness (with knowledge or stardust) for free.

Well, Twitter is no longer free. Literally as well as figuratively. And we are all so much poorer for it.

Since Musk took power, he set out to dismantle everything that made Twitter worthwhile – making it his mission to hunt expertise, scare celebrities, intimidate journalists and – a other side – to reward bad actors, spammers and sycophants who thrive in the opposite. environment: an information void.

It doesn’t matter if it’s deliberate sabotage by Musk or the embarrassing stupidity of an ignorant idiot. The result is the same: Twitter is dying.

The value that Twitter’s platform has produced, by combining valuable streams of qualification and curiosity, is beaten and wrung. What remains – for months now – felt like an echo shell of his former self. And it’s clear that with every freshly destructive decision — whether it’s overturning the Nazi ban and letting the toxicity rip, turning verification into a payphone or literally banning journalists — Musk used his vast wealth to destroy as many valuable information networks as possible in as short a time as possible; each decision triggering a new exodus of expertise as longtime users give up and leave.

Simply put, Musk is throwing Twitter down the drain. I guess now we all know what the stupid meme really meant.

On April Fool’s Day, the next – maybe the last – stage of the destruction will begin as Musk rips through the last layer of legacy verification, turning up the volume for anyone willing to pay him $7.99 to shout about everyone.

Anyone who was verified under the old (and by no means perfect) Twitter verification system – which was at least tied to who they were (celebrity, expert, journalist, etc.) – will stop being verified. Assuming they haven’t already deleted their account. Only accounts that pay Musk will show a “blue verification”.

This is just a travesty of verification since the blue tick no longer signals any type of quality. But the visual similarity seems intentional; a dark pattern designed to generate maximum confusion.

If you pay Musk for this meaningless brand, you’ll also gain algorithmically increased visibility of your tweets and the power to drown out tweets from non-paying users. Which means all the fakes and imposters can (and will) crush the real deal on Twitter.

These genuine users are rightly outraged at the prospect of being blackmailed into paying Musk to prove who they are. These people – the signal amid the noise of Twitter – are, after all, a critical component of the network’s value. So of course they shouldn’t (and won’t pay) — and so their visibility on Twitter will diminish. This, in turn, will trigger more damage, as any remaining users wishing to find quality information will find it harder and harder to find… This is death from irrelevance.

In another twist, only paying users will get a vote in future Twitter politics polls — meaning Musk will ensure populist decision-making is rigged in favor of his fanboys. (But in fact, it feels like pure trolling since he’s not sticking to poll results he doesn’t like anyway.)

The result is that Musk is turning Twitter into the opposite of a meritocracy. He channels pure chaos – just like the “chaotic evil” cartoon villains love to do. (Well, as we’ve said before, Twitter is Musk’s masterpiece of calamity.)

This scheme also does not look like a source of money for Musk. It has raked in just $11 million in subscription revenue since Twitter Blue relaunched three months ago, per Sensor Tower. (Reminder: Musk paid $44 billion for Twitter last October. And has already destroyed half of that value, according to a recent leaked internal memo.) So, yes, this “play of pwns” has been very expensive for Musk. Also. It’s a losing equation that makes your eyes water – unless you’re a spammer, basically. (So ​​probably this is a cheap way to spam Musk fans if it’s a useful thing to do?)

Making money from Twitter doesn’t seem like the goal for the billionaire/former richest man in the world who obviously has enough wealth to throw plenty of borrowed billions down the drain. Although at the start of his takeover, he dragged (trolled?) the idea of transform Twitter into a platform of one billion users. But when it comes to revenue and user growth, we all have to agree that Musk has been a drastic – spectacular – failure.

However, if it is simply pure destruction – building a machine of chaos by removing a source of valuable information from our connected world, where groups of all stripes could communicate and organize, and replacing it with a place of parody that rewards insincerity, wasting time, and the worst forms of communication in order to degrade the better half — so he’s done a remarkable job in a very short time. It really is an incredible act of demolition. But, well, $44 billion can buy you a lot of wrecking balls.

That our system allows wealth to be turned into a weapon to destroy things of great societal value is a harsh lesson we should learn from the wreckage of downed turquoise feathers.

You can tell the shame on the Twitter board that let this happen. And we probably should. But, technically speaking, their job was to maximize shareholder value; which means to hell with the rest of us.

We should also consider how the “rules-based order” we have designed seems unable to withstand a tyrant determined to replace free access to information with paid disinformation – and how our democratic systems seem so unable and frozen in the face of confident vandals running around spray-painting ‘freedom’ all over the walls as they burn down the library.

The simple truth is that building something valuable – whether it’s knowledge, experience, or a network worth participating in – is really, really hard. But tearing everything down is easy.

Let it sink in.


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