Musk’s takeover of Twitter has certainly been something to watch. Within his first few days as owner, he was spreading conspiracy theories. On October 28th, Musk tweeted:
Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.Tweet dated October 28th, 2022 1:18pm CST
I’m not able to find any evidence this council has been convened and Musk has not tweeted about it since November 1st, where he referred to it in the future tense (“Twitter’s content moderation council will include…”). And yet, just two days ago he tweeted a poll stating simply “Reinstate President Trump” with Yes and No options. After two days of this highly unscientific poll, the Yeses had it and Musk declared Trump’s Twitter account would be reinstated. So much for that content moderation council, eh, Musky? By the way, when I say the poll was highly unscientific, that’s because it wasn’t sent to all Twitter users, it was tweeted from Musk’s personal account and shared across twitter via retweets. Media reports earlier in the year report his percentage of fake (aka bot) followers in the range of 1/4 to 1/2 and currently audience analytics site SparkToro reports his fake followers at 70.2%. Who know how many votes were from bot accounts and how much they spread the poll to those with certain ideologies?
At first I thought he was destroying Twitter either through ignorance or spite, but a new picture is starting to come into focus. It looks like he’s trying to stir up drama and controversy to drive more engagement on the platform. People (myself included) love to share and complain about things that we don’t like, which means many of us are complaining about Musk on Twitter, and will now be complaining about (and probably sharing awful tweets from) Trump. Advertisers which had been shying may start to salivate over the numbers. We know corporations generally have little (to no) moral compass and make most decisions based on the bottom line. If they feel the ad exposures outweigh the possible negative consequences of having their content juxtaposed with racism, homophobia, misogyny and misinformation, they’ll jump right back on that bandwagon.
So I’m not to the point of abandoning or boycotting Twitter, I’m limiting my use and I’m going to try to resist the urge to share or dogpile the stupid shit I see on there. You may notice this blog post contains no links to Twitter Dot Com and that’s intentional. I encourage like-minded folks to resist taking the bait. You don’t have to abandon the platform altogether, but don’t give Musk the rage-engagement and senseless arguments he seems to want. And as an evergreen reminder, don’t feed the trolls.