Twitter, Once a Threat to Titans, Now Belongs to One

Oct 29, 2022 · 302 comments
Sophia (chicago)
Twitter has become a menace to democracy, freedom and most of all to truth. And the minute Musk took over Twitter started broadcasting racist and antisemitic propaganda. I now fear for our very lives. Hitler was able to exterminate 2/3 of European Jewry in a few short years without social media. Imagine what he could have done with it. And, in a sort of cosmic coincidence, Nancy Pelosi’s husband was violently attacked on the same day by a man who’d apparently been radicalized by obnoxious right wing lies and conspiracy theories. We must get a grip on this before it’s too late. Freedom of speech and the mass broadcast of misinformation, propaganda and hate speech are not remotely equivalent.
Lilo (Michigan)
@Sophia So if twitter is a menace to democracy and freedom what do you think should be done about this?
Theresa’s (NJ)
I’m so happy that whole crew was dismantled. How dare they decide on political issues and allow or disallow news and facts. They didn’t like Trump, too bad! They decided to protect Biden and Hunter, their bad! It’s time for facts. It’s time people can express their opinion again! All media outlets just let a big lie go by when Biden said gas is down to $3.38 gallon. WHERE? And his assertion that it is lower than when he too office, REALLY? Do some fact checking! A lot of people stayed away from Twitter because it got too involved in controlling the narrative. I feel the same about Facebook. Got off immediately when they censored a US President. Zuckerberg is feeling the pain. Let’s get back to expressing our opinions. That’s what made America great.
N. Smith (New York City)
@Theresa’s Sorry. But judging from what's coming out of Elon Musk's mouth and what's been coming out of Twitter since he bought it -- it's hard to see anything that will make America great.
K (NJ)
That US president incited a violent riot in order to keep power so he can avoid prosecution for his many crimes. All you “patriots” (ha ha ha) can have it. Knock yourselves out. No one cares.
A Gnome Named Grimble Grumble (The Gates Of Dawn)
Mr. Musk hasn’t changed. He’s the same moderate who voted for Obama and Hillary. He even posted a meme (naturally) showing a stick figure of himself remaining in the same place politically and the Democrats lurching leftward, taking Zuckerberg, Bezos and others with it.
Reasoned44 (28717)
Never have understood why the left tries so hard to censor ideas that they don’t like. As a young man I learned that repressive regimes use censorship and harsh punishment/prison to try and end the dissent of their people against their tyranny. Why are these people so afraid of Musk?
Spiz (San Jose)
@Reasoned44 Perhaps you mean some people would like to stop systematic targeted abuse. Ideas are great. But the two are not the same.
Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Fictional, Columbia)
@Reasoned44 Never understood how the far-right can convince themselves that there is no difference between passing laws that ban books, ban teaching history without a heavy coat of white wash, advocating for investigations into corporations that donate money to Democrats, forbid doctors to speak to female patients about reproductive health, between those and *individuals* deciding to "cancel"--i.e., boycott--other individuals, or to boycott companies. Never understood how these far-right, anti-freedom "republicans" can call themselves "reasoned" with a straight face.
Seriphussr (United States Of The Socialist Republic)
@Reasoned44 If understanding is what you seek, let me help you understand. If you and I were standing face-to-face having a discussion and I said some things to you that were insulting and/or threatening, would you continue to engage in the discussion? Would you just walk away and say, “Well, everyone is entitled to their opinions”, as I continued to hurl insults and threats at you, your family, your community? Most people would be angry about being insulted or threatened. Some might engage with words, some with physical violence. Most people in society understand this, so we each try to engage in “civil” discussions, even with people we vehemently disagree with. Neither of us want to be insulted or threatened. Neither of us want to come to blows over a conversation. It’s called “civilization” for a reason. Social media (including forums such as NYT comments) allow people to hurl insults and threats at others with absolutely no consequences. Fortunately, the NYT has moderators who censor certain comments to minimize blatant insults and threats. It’s not a perfect system, but it helps to keep the discussion civilized. The left isn’t interested in censoring ideas they don’t like. The left (and many on the right) are interested in civil discussions. When people engage in insulting, derogatory, and threatening behaviors, all civilized people should rightly demand for some level of censorship. We don’t accept this in the public square. Neither should we in social media.
M (US of A)
Paying $44 billion for an unprofitable company that is worth $20 billion…..brilliant
Ann Onymous (The Untied Status of America)
I guess journalists will continue to quote from Twitter the same way they quote from "truth social." However, for the rest of us, I imagine Twitter will become yet another right-wing echo chamber, propagating alarmist misinformation. It's certainly of no interest to me.
Twg (NV)
Social media was never a tool for the downtrodden. That was always a myth told by those who were positioned to make millions of dollars from an application designed to function much like the old parlor games like Rumors/Gossip or the Telephone Game. Just how much positive permanent change emerged from Occupy Wall Street or even the Arab Spring across the Mideast? Although it's true that some horrible rulers were deposed, others like Bashar al-Assad in Syria remained in power by brutally cracking down on protestors and resorting to the use of chemical weapons. As then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton queried protest leaders in the brighter stages of the Arab Spring,"What are your plans? What sort of government do you wish to form?" It turns out the leaders had not thought too much beyond the initial protests. Which was true of the Occupy movement as well: a whole lot of noise and little to show for it except for a lot of lengthy, academic papers. Musk has a god complex. The wealthier he's grown the more capricious and autocratic his views and behavior have become. (You can say the same thing about Peter Thiel.)
S May (NYC)
I mainly use Twitter for following my favorite tV & streaming shows & making comments. So one day I was commenting regarding the show Lucifer the devil. They suspended my account for a week for using the word devil. I liked the show & my comments were positive.
DaveD (Wisconsin)
I must paraphrase Wagner: "He (Musk) is a Titan wrestling with the Dogs."
Seriphussr (United States Of The Socialist Republic)
I’ve never been a Twitter user. I’ve read a tweet or two when it was part of NYT article, but never had a Twitter account. Twitter seems to be an extension of everything I hated about high school and college society. Ego-driven behaviors by power-hungry strivers. Bullying, rumor-mongering, deception, fabrication. All done to improve one’s status and standing in the collective. Twitter seems to be a way for supposedly mature adults to continue that behavior long after they move on from the confines of high school and college. In many ways, Twitter allows people to infantilize relationships. Reduce them to crude vehicles for their need to be the center of attention. Like a child’s need for a parent’s approval. It’s really a sad commentary on our society. What was my point? . . . Oh yeah. It’s been mentioned in previous comments how the situation of Musk buying Twitter parallels the premise in the movie, “Citizen Kane”, which was essentially a thinly veiled indictment of William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was a powerful and somewhat mean-spirited newspaper mogul who had enormous influence over the politics in the United States in the early 20th century. During his lifetime, Hearst went for being a progressive Democrat to a staunch Republican, mostly as part of his plan to control the agenda of US foreign and domestic policy based on HIS view of the world. He thought he was smarter than everyone else. He thought that gave him license to control everyone else. Sound familiar?
extrasuper (mountain west)
I deactivated my account Thursday afternoon. I was not surprised about the surge in xenophobic tweets. The worst is yet to come.
Eugene Gorrin (Union, NJ)
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Yeah I know it comes from Spider-Man. But Elon Musk never got the memo - or the comic book.
Karen G (Washington, DC area)
I've only read tweets during the endless decades of Donald Trump's presidency. Really don't miss Twitter. Unfortunately, I can't miss Donald Trump because the New York Times and the Washington Post give him the bully pulpit that he so desires. Of course, he doesn't know where the phrase "bully pulpit" originated. Nor does it mean what he thinks it does, if he had the attention span of a gnat.
Sbaty (Alexandria, VA)
You can tell a whole bunch about a person by the company he keeps, or in this case, owns. All the folks banished from twitter in Europe are already reinstated. Trump and his class of human will be next. Musk is like a frat boy who throws a big party and demands that everyone get truly fall down wasted or they will be escorted from the funhouse. No exceptions. Twitter is doomed . . . let's hope it fails before we do.
Paul (Barkley)
The only reason Trump's Twitter ramblings were controversial is because most in the various media outlets made them so. Each night's tweets were aired far and wide. Each was treated as some kind of national policy update. The media could not resist riling up its viewers, generating millions of clicks, and keeping the money rolling in. Sanctimoniously, most in the media gravely assured us only they stood between whatever Trump imagined at 3 in the morning and civil society. Sure he had millions of likes, but so what? The very group which assured us Trump was evil incarnate bathed in the adulation, and money, of their reporting. Since the ban, since Trump left office, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest have at best half their earlier viewers, while FOX News has soared. You created the monster. Now he is gone, and no matter how much the media and Democrat politicians want him back, he is not running in next month's election, and likely won't in 2024. Too bad, so sad. -------- Now the media is hyping Musk's purchase of Twitter, another, I suppose, "Threat to Democracy!". Good times all around.
WJG (Canada)
So far it looks like Musk just spent 44 billion dollars to purchase a platform that he is turning into a boutique chat room for friends and family. No one is banned, but anyone can be banned. There may be little echo chambers with enhanced resonance for internet crackpots to get together and recruit fellow travelers. I wait with anticipation to see how long the "Elon is a Bozo" strand will last. I'm guessing not long.
Dahlia (Napa Valley)
Thank God Musk wasn’t born in the US and can’t be president because we very likely could have ended up with a trump v2.0.
Patty Quinn (Philadelphia PA)
To me, seems a platform or resource like Twitter is what you do with it. I use it to follow respected scholars who post there. Yes, there's a huge amount of trash there, but it's easy to avoid it, or at least I find it easy to avoid it. I don't spend a lot of time there. For the time being, depending on how this plays out, I'll stay. As one of the scholars I follow said, why make it easy for the extremists/hatemongers/bigots/liars?
Gertrude (The Hinterland)
A) conservative book-banning, group-think-ostracizing of anyone who challenges their capitulating and enablement, and willingness to issue draconian punishment to educators who address white supremacy, homophobia and transphobia B) liberal silencing of art before it reaches the public - i.e. an acclaimed film made by a female director being removed from major festivals last minute for some perceived social-justice transgression (‘Jihad Rehab’) a film made by a Black filmmaker being refused distribution at all (‘All-Star Weekend’) C) liberal apologia for outright physical violence towards comedians (Will Smith, the Hollywood Bowl attacker of Dave Chappelle) D) liberal social-media pile-ons that celebrate censorship or self-censorship - Lauren Hough’s Lambda Prize nomination rescinded for using Twitter to defend art, i.e. Sandra Newman’s “The Men,” a work condemned as “harmful” and needing “deplatforming” on social media by folks who hadn’t yet read it (Emily Ratajtowski’s celebrated social-media post about ‘Blonde’ without having even seen it yet being another example) - the celebration of Lizzo and Beyoncé changing their own lyrics after social-media-condemnation labeled them “ableist” because of one word in a pop song, and D) censorship mobs thriving in universities, demanding firings of educators (often succeeding) and the silencing of guest speakers. If this is the state of free speech in ‘22, a Twitter owner with an uncompromising stance on free speech is not Doomsday.
The Raven (Flourtown PA)
Hey, here’s a radical social idea…. Don’t have social media accounts. I have no FB account, no Twitter account, no TikTok. I have a personal IG account that I rarely post on and two small business accounts that Im also a very infrequent poster on. It’s ok. The world can live without your puppy pictures or you trying to foist your views on people who won’t listen anyway. If they disagree they’ll fire back and escalate. If they agree you get a like. Whoo hoo! It is absolutely impossible to get a conservative to agree to any liberal point and vice versa. No amount of tweets will alter that.
AnneW (Seattle)
Thus far, Elon Musk has demonstrated that with enough money you can fire who ever you wish and you can have all the “free speech” you want.
Opus Day (New York)
Ishmael Musk sailing the Pequod Tesla could be defeated by the Moby Dick Twitter. High accomplishment in one endeavor is no guarantee of winning in another with different attributes and difficulties. Musk has demonstrated great skill in technology businesses and garnering lucrative governmental subsidies, but the public discourse realm is much messier and unpredictable, as many royals, autocrats, dictators and tyrants have learned when the manipulable mob becomes revolutionary and inflamed to wage all out war on thpe central authority accustomed to obedience and enforcement by military aggression. Supremacy quite often breeds indolent expectation of continuation of privilege and unaccountability. The greater the protection from challenge induces weakness, blindness, complacency, withering of once overwhelming force against opposition. Will the whale of the bountiful sea destroy the master of machinery? The slow decline of the earth under the onslaught of human technology may appear to favor the tech-bros, but that brief history of conquest has induced vainglory of the human titans with mere decades of life compared to the eons of Big Bang cataclysmic diversity of life forms ever revolting.
Twitter has become a merger tool for Google. Passwords and security are now sandwiched. I did not like that . Twitter is no more a participating experience it has become a relay of other commercial spheres. Seeing the quasi Putinesque/Trumpist attitude and ideology of Elan Musk, I decided to opt out.
Patty Quinn (Philadelphia PA)
I am keeping my Twitter account active. Others here have called Twitter a tool and said it has little actual value. I follow scholars and other sane, reasoned people on Twitter. Here is an example from today of the kinds of reports I find on Twitter: Mark Zuckerberg opposes a bill in the Canadian Parliament dealing with Facebook. His response, he threatened to block all news in Canada, just as he did to Australia--an entire continent--not long ago. I have found no news of this in U.S. papers yet. I found this on Twitter. Yes, I know it's riddled with rubbish, as is Facebook. I find that you can use these platforms sanely and responsibly, and avoid the rubbish. I spend a little bit of time on them, go directly to news organization sites for my news, and then I take a walk with my camera, enjoy the scenery, check in on neighbors and friends, listen to some music, do chores, read a book, live my life. It is possible to have a healthy balance if you use common sense.
Eugene Gorrin (Union, NJ)
For those Twitter users who are unhappy that Elon Musk is now in control of the company, you have enormous power. It’s a simple and easy solution to exercise: Deactivate your accounts.
Bruce B (New Mexico)
He’s already following the conservative playbook by firing employees in order to cut costs. In the conservative worldview employers are above employees. Conservatives think most employees are expendable resources and not assets.
Brian Sugar (Santa Cruz)
If Twitter had not banned Trump, and a (hypothetical) mob, organized and planned out on Twitter, stormed Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, would Elon Musk still feel the same? Probably. Employees are expendable.
JNR2MAD (Spain)
Please stop referring to people like Musk as "titans." Titanic whats? Colossal egos? One of the biggest problems in our lives today is that people think because someone is successful at one thing that they are magically endowed with the ability to do something else. Bezos, Musk, Bloomberg, Yang, Zuckerberg, are all successful at one thing but that does not qualify them for public office or as guardians of the public square. I'd rather see Meryl Streep, Aaron Judge, or Dolly Parton in charge of these platforms and the policies that govern them.
Smith (Colorado)
Why was Twitter a threat to the Titans? I don't get that. Twitter was a threat to free speech. It will be interesting to learn how many bots were active in manipulating users' comments. And how were the algorithms used to divide users into argumentative camps? I hope we learn just how devious these ex-executives were.
Brian (MA)
@Smith How was twitter ever a threat to free speech? I can't say I used twitter much over the years but I never once thought in the course of my life, I can't say X because of twitter.
Rob (Fairfield County, CT)
When, exactly, was Twitter a “Threat to Titans?” It appears to me that Twitter had evolved to serve two missions: First, to serve as a platform for one-way communication from celebrities, politicians, and consumer-product corporations to build loyalty from their fans. Secondly, to serve as a conduit for spam and scams to unwitting subscribers. It appears that Musk's "Town Square" is only part of the mission; his larger goal seems to be to reconstruct Twitter as a multifaceted digital companion and communications medium along the lines of WeChat. And that's a good thing. The Town Square will need to sit on a foundation of revenue from a much wider range of sources than Twitter has ever had. Whether Musk is able to succeed at this is the real question. All social media platforms are running aground on the shoals of content moderation - which is an impossible mission as presently constituted at Twitter as well as at Facebook and other companies. Thus the "hellscape" of misinformation that already threatens our political process and offends our sense of decency. I sense that Musk understands this and will be applying his considerable techno talents to this task. People should stop invoking the Trump bogeyman, and wait to see what he does. If Musk doesn’t succeed, I don’t know who else will do so. Whatever you might think of Musk, the future of public discourse in our digital age depends upon him - or somebody - succeeding at this.
Jake (Franklin, NY)
There was always censorship on twitter, this could happen even by promoting certain tweets over others. It was not something I ever had the need for and not much has changed.
soleilame (New York)
Deactivated my account. Sad to go, but will be great for my sanity. Nothing could entice me to stay and watch it become 4chan.
C. M. Jones (Tempe, AZ)
The problem with the ‘town square’ analogy of Twitter as public discourse is that usually when discussing a contentious issue with someone irl both parties self-regulate their speech for fear of getting spit on or punched in the face by the other party. Twitter eliminates that form of self-censorship. Additionally, other forms of public debate are moderated by a referee. Musk’s Twitter will eliminate that as well. The bird is free? More like the global collective Id is about to be unleashed. My, what could go wrong?
Michael Blazin (Dallas, TX)
Likely part of the town square metaphor is named and verified accounts. If you want complete anonymity, you can wander the sewers with bots and trolls. I wish the NYT did comments that way.
Skip Intro o (San Francisco)
On what planet was Twitter ever a threat to Tech Titans?
Sunshine (CT)
Now Musk controls large swaths of electric vehicle production, Social Media, Space exploration and satellite internet. This is what Republicans have fought for - billionaires who have unchecked powers over extracting unlimited personal benefits on behlaf of others.
Bird (Everywhere)
Musk didn't buy Twitter to restore access for the likes of Trump & Milo. He did it because Twitter censored The Babylon Bee. When the Bee is censored, everyone is. If Megan Murphy cannot tweet biologic truths, no one can. Musk's purchase was a win for democracy. It's distressing that so many people miss this.
David (California)
Nah. What’s really distressing is that some people are arguing that private companies should be forced to allow hate speech.
Skip Intro (San Francisco)
The Babylon Bee violated Twitter’s TOS in a way that alienated other users. Musk can change the TOS now that he owns the company. But a TOS deals with more than just “free speech” considerations, it establishes the framework that a online business is built around. Shedding users because a site is unpleasant is bad business. Sure, let accounts like The Bee say whatever they want, but then Twitter will be relegated to the dust bin of all the other wing-nut niche apps.
Discernie (Las Cruces, NM)
"The bird is freed" must mean a pterodactyl; the velociraptor of the skies. Even more terrifying will be hateful assaults', lies, conspiracy fabrications, as we tremble before the power and glory Musk's orchestrated, sound-bite, apocalyptic hunger games. It won't be just a free for all but paid for political ads for all kinds of worthy humane activities meant to indoctrinate us all with madness of one sort or another. What good can come of this? Will Twitter be vile and despicable as it has become or will Elon convert it to some common good for mankind? Don't laugh; anything could happen even something positive. Will millions of users manage Musk or be managed by him? The chosen ones like Trump and others will return. Most likely scenario Twitter will be prime mover in Trump's reelection after which Elon will align with Putin and Kim Jong-un to advance civilization to the level of Soylent Green. Subjugation of the masses will become a necessity and global propaganda will be controlled by computerized algorithms. The only novel or creative input available to us online will be moderated and dominated by Twitter, FB, and Instagram. Rebellion and flight from oppression will be obliterated by 24/7 citizen monitoring like China. This is the malaise of our times. Our very lives are controlled by inane blurbs of vacuous pomp. Vote Dem this Nov. 8 to avert this tragedy and others lurking in the wins. Help others vote and protect the polls.
Johnny39 (10562)
Musk Is a neo conservative. He’s a big Trump fan. Enough said. Everyone should quit Twitter and I hope he loses that $44 billion He doesn’t support democracy and all his blather about free speech is just to give white supremacists even more power. To give election deniers more power and to give everyone that’s in the wrong more power. That’s what he considers free speech. You don’t have to go far back in history, in fact go back two days ago when Nancy Pelosi‘s husband was attacked at her own home. 82-year-old man attacked with a hammer incited by all the rhetoric coming from the extremist right wing. Do we really want to live in this type of country? I want to live in a democracy, so does my wife. Our kids realize that we are on the precipice of losing our democracy as flawed as it sometimes is. The least we can do is vote against American terrorism and right wing election denying. we renounce all violence unless it is in self-defense. We renounce all political violence definitively. Did the Democrats go out and attack the capital when George W. Bush was illegally appointed by the supreme court and the recount in Florida was stopped by his brother Jeb & Co.? we did not. No matter how sketchy that situation was we sat on our hands and accepteit. Maybe people will remember that we attacked Iraq when it had nothing to do with 9/11. Half the country and the people were fooled by this charade.
DJ (East of the Mississippi)
@Johnny39 Unfortunately, democracy in this country has been declining since the early 1900s and is just about gone by now...
Reasoned44 (28717)
@Johnny39 Why is this about Trump. He will never hold office again. One question, now that it has been proven that the censorship of the Hunter Biden’s laptop was censoring the truth are you appalled at the way it was censored?
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
After South Africa born Elon Musk's take over of Twitter there is a chance to end apartheid of twitter under the previous leadership of twitter. Musk has begun the process of cleaning up twitter of the skeletons of twitters' apartheid. It is a great day for twitter and I am sure twitter will shine and its stock will rise. As I have been saying all along that truth never goes out of style and responsible freedom of expression should never be taken away from users of twitter by any private entity. Ban hate speech for sure but don't interfere with opposing views to the one party rule of Democrats in USA. Agree to disagree and respond to lies with full vigor but don't characterize truth as disinformation just because truth hurts at times.
Ann Onymous (The Untied Status of America)
@Girish Kotwal I will never agree to disagree about proven facts. Truth is not up for debate.
E. Hart (NC)
Since when have Republicans spoken truth or accepted the truth? Twitter is now just another far-right authoritarian propaganda tool for the encouragement of hatred and Republican domestic terrorism. That is the TRUTH.
DJ (East of the Mississippi)
@Girish Kotwal Please define "responsible freedom of expression"?
Girish Kotwal (Louisville, KY)
S. Africa born Elon Musk's take over of Twitter there is a chance to end apartheid of twitter under the previous leadership of twitter. Musk has begun the process of cleaning up twitter of the skeletons of twitters' apartheid. It is a great day for twitter and I am sure twitter will shine and its stock will rise. As I have been saying all along that truth never goes out of style and responsible freedom of expression should never be taken away from users of twitter by any private entity. Ban hate speech for sure but don't interfere with opposing views to the one party rule of Democrats in USA. Agree to disagree and respond to lies with full vigor but don't characterize truth as disinformation just because truth hurts at times.
Mark (Tully, NY)
Tower of babel. Populism run amok. Platform for demagogues. Tyranny of the mob. Voice for a society made sick by an addiction to social media. Twitter is all these things and is now under the control of one person. Maybe John Prine was right when he said, "Blow up your TV Throw away your paper Go to the country Build you a home..."
Patrick (usa)
Twitter was already run by billionaires since years ago
MC (Arizona)
Me and others: The major internet platforms should have as free expression as possible apart from obvious restrictions on violence, threats, privacy violations, pornography, etc… Most of the rest of the Liberal Left: They’re corporations, they can do whatever they want. Dem Congress: These companies are run by techno-nerds who should be on our side, but they’ve let things get out of hand. Let’s bring them in for a conversation to make sure they get with the program. Billionaire: Whoa. Did you hear all that? Whatever I want? That’s a lot of power. And Congress won’t touch me, I own them. I think I’ll buy one of these big platforms! Most of the rest of the Liberal Left: These billionaire-run companies have too much power. We’ll boycott them and there’ll be nothing left but crazy right-wingers to drown in their cesspool. That’ll fix em! Or wait, here’s an idea, let’s take away the billionaires’ money so they can’t do this! Me and others: That last idea sounds good. Let’s stop censoring and instead have a conversation about massive wealth inequality. I know this place called Twitter where you can talk about anything you want…
Sweetbay (Gainesville, VA)
@MC :Do things really get done via Twitter?
Deb (Blue Ridge Mtns.)
We're on a tragically downward spiral, gaining momentum as the Fox audience laps up poisoned kool-aid, confident in their ignorance, smugly believing the lies they're told will bring them what... happiness? Revenge? Musk's buying of Twitter is the equivalent of allowing an arsonist to yell 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre. But the theatre is on fire. Those of us sounding the alarm are bullied, laughed at and threatened as they block the doors, mock us as woke, ignore the increasing smoke and call it a hoax. As it burns, the arsonists smile as they burn it all down for amusement because they can.
Rick (New Orleans)
Personally, I’m looking forward to twitter’s demise, à la My Space.
S. Butler (New Mexico)
I don't think that Elon Musk wants to go down the road that Trump has taken to be viewed as the world's biggest loser. He values his reputation too much to make Twitter into the hellscape that he said he wants to avoid. Trump thinks that any publicity is good publicity. Elon Musk knows better. I could be wrong, of course, and time will tell if I am. Just understand, Elon, that there's no going back if you follow Trump down the loser road.
Suppan (San Diego)
Twitter and other "Social Media" products have exposed the vapid nature of supposedly respectable discourse in the US and some other countries. While these sites are so valuable to dissidents in countries with no free speech and free press. While in the countries where there is free expression it has been turned into a moneymaking racket of clickbait, tabloid news and self-promoters of all branches of the narcissist tree. The vast majority of people in the world, and I mean the vast, vast majority, have nothing to do with Twitter. But the racketeering is made possible by supposedly respectable journalists taking the trash talk from Twitter and disseminating it through their established institutions. To this day it is a mystery why we should "follow" our news shows or reporters on Twitter and Facebook. What are you, self-proclaimed Capitalists, offering for free over there which you are not at your paying workplace? Long before the authoritarians hijacked these sites you guys made them useless by drowning your reputation (signal) in the noise of the attention seekers and rabble rousers (noise), flattening the two. Just so there is no confusion, this flattening didn't occur by elevating the rabble to nobler purposes. It happened by reducing the signal to the same credibility and veracity (as in lack thereof) as the noise. But there are likes to be earned and clickbait to be set out for the suckers. Let the good times roll.
Terry Roberts (Brookings, Oregon)
Happy to remain off of Facebook, Meta, Twitter, and as many cacophonous platforms as I can. Opinions are like --- you know. Everybody has one. Can't even escape them on the fake corporate news. Soooo "therapeutic" - to think you are being heard. Bipedal hominid = monkey with hat.
Frank (Ramsey)
The Musk purchase of Twitter was the final kick that I needed to get off the platform. It has really become a sewer of racism, antisemitism and all-around bigotry. For me, Twitter has been an unhealthy habit and I’m happier person for having left.
Craig (Cabo San Lucas)
A narcissist and megalomaniac running a social media company. What could go wrong with that?
Jim (MA)
The idea that Twitter once was a tool for ending oppression is laughable. It has long been a multi-billion-dollar corporation with a very simple business model: cultivate short attention spans as a way to sell ads. This is best facilitated by getting people to make snap judgments, sound off about things they don't fully understand, and say sensationally bad things about each other, in posts of enforced brevity. It's no accident that the social-justice campaigns that thrived on Twitter, from Occupy to the Arab Spring, soon fizzled. People soon moved on to the next thing. It doesn't matter what the content is. The form is the ideological mechanism. Twitter temporality: the skittish, restless hop to the next thing, the special urgency of some big cause that evaporates when the next big cause pops up. It's the consumerist, late-capitalist temporality par excellence. No wonder why people like Musk and Trump love it.
Fraser (Canada)
For the most part I eschew social media and stick to getting my news and views from trusted journalistic sources like this newspaper. I have observed how people obsess over platforms like FB, Twitter and others in order to make sense of their world. They should try picking up a book or better yet try to write something. An effort at self expression that takes concentration and hard work and study is so much better at realizing how to relate to the world. And understanding our place in it.
Sergio (Taipei)
And American people used to complain about William Randolph Hearst. Don’t you miss him now?
Independent American (USA)
I've never been a member of twitsalot or fake book and I'm not about to start now either. These are hate sites hiding behind the 1st amendment to promote hateful discord and violence among us. Many of these members have then gone on to complain about the high volume of crime and violence they've been creating or contributing to! Especially Republican politicians who've used bull's eyes "targeting" opponents, as well as called fellow Americans the "enemy" for simply having differing opinions. They encourage and commit violence, but then claim innocence. Example: Jan 6 insurrection!
Korgull (Hudson Valley)
Most accounts on Twitter are bots. Them's the facts kids. Of the real humans on the platform, 90% of the traffic is generated by 10% of the users. It's no more than an echo chamber for minority opinions on the fringes of the left and right. Nothing in the real world should ever be influenced by the screeching weasels on Twitter.
J. (Here and There)
I just deleted my Twitter app. Not interested in anything controlled by Putin’s ally, Elon Musk.
Jim🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃 (Iowa)
We shall soon see just how “free speechy” Musk really is. He is already discovering that he will either have to figure out a way to police the crazies on Twitter or the company will go broke. No legitimate business will allow their advertising to appear amongst racist and Nazi rants. And the idea that any number of subscribers are going to pay for Twitter is laughable. Sorry Elan, but you’re going to have to choose between “woke” Twitter and broke Twitter.
Flyover Country (Anywhere)
"A minority of Twitter users produce a majority of tweets from U.S. adults, and the most active tweeters are less likely to view the tone or civility of discussions as a major problem on the site... ...Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults now use Twitter... ...The analysis also reveals another familiar pattern on social media: that a relatively small share of highly active users produce the vast majority of content. An analysis of tweets by this representative sample of U.S. adult Twitter users from June 12 to Sept. 12, 2021, finds that the most active 25% of U.S. adults on Twitter by tweet volume produced 97% of all tweets from these users." In summary 25% of 25% of US adults produce 97% of all tweets. And that doesn't address the bot or organized troll farm issue. Yet the media reports "Trending on Twitter" as if it is representative of the pulse of America. With apologies to the Bard- [Twitter] is a tale Told by an idiot, Full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.
mike (San Francisco)
What's the actual practical value of Twitter..? The author here points out (with some exaggeration) that people have used Twitter to topple dictators, Occupy Wall Street, instigate Black Lives Matter protests... -- But what has actually come of any of that.?? Egypt is still a dictatorship, Libya is a failed state, Wall Street is doing fine and the protestors are long gone, and BLM really hasn't achieved anything tangible for the lives of Black people. --So what's the point of Twitter..?? Disinformation and giving gossipy, celebrity time to the likes of Trump & Ye.?? -- Seems just another way to keep the bored masses in a dull stupor....(and sell them some useless product).
C. M. Jones (Tempe, AZ)
Comes in handy during mass shootings or other emergencies where you can relay or absorb real time information. But, yeah, I also don’t see the point. Except for comedians. Twitter is perfect for telling jokes.
Mark (California)
Like nearly all social media platforms, the users are not the focal point - advertisers are. 90% of Twitters income is from advertising. Remember, Musk said he was a "free speech absolutist"; whatever that means.What advertiser will want to be part of a thread that contains Neo- Nazi's ,Q-Anon followers, trumpers, election deniers, misogynists, anti - LGBTQ, etc ? My guess - few, or none. GM has already pulled out. Then Twitters income stream dwindles. Now what? Will Musk then use the billions he gained from Tesla to help bailout Twitter? What will Tesla shareholders think of that? It's hard to imagine a positive response. I'm sure they never envisioned Teslas coffers being a bank for Musks megalomaniacal whims. We'll find out how that goes. My guess - not very well. So congratulations, Mr. Musk, you caught your prey in Twitter. Now IT has YOU.
Michael Blazin (Dallas, TX)
He will sell subscriptions to named and verified individuals, give them green checks, for modest amount, one dollar or 50 cents a month, and adjust the platform to allow a “green check” filter. Advertisers will limit content to green check discussions. They will love it. Only green check accounts will contribute to trend analysis. The bots and tripe will labor in obscurity. Unless you go looking for them, you won’t know that they exist.
Mmm (Nyc)
Twitter's business problem is it is bad at serving ads. Musk needs to fix that. Twitter's toxicity problem is every good faith take gets a gazillion hateful replies that don't advance discussion. Just a bunch of bad faith posturing. Musk needs to fix that. Twitter's moderation problem is that the most sensitive among us believe they have the right to censor content they personally deem "unsafe" or "damaging", even if others want to hear it. Musk needs to fix that. The best aspect of Twitter is getting unfiltered content from really smart, informed experts on a variety of topics. It has nothing to do with power dynamics or social justice.
Markem (California)
“The bad guys figured out the internet” I used to say. Twitter’s structure makes it the perfect platform for global authoritarianism. There are plenty of goldfish brains out there for the rich and powerful to exploit, indoctrinating them into a radical army of zealots. Oh, wait! That already happened. Turn it all off.
Dr. John (Seattle)
How anyone can defend an Old Twitter that demonstrated an extreme bias in 2020 and a discrimination towards one party, is simply inexplicable.
Jack the Ex-Patriot (San Miguel de)
This is a very dangerous situation. Information is power and influence, and to have Twitter under the control of a titan with many personal and critical agendas is perilous. He is not elected and controls space and rocketry, car manufacturing, media, etc. No man should be allowed to have so much power. A man with such power can cause serious diplomatic and economic problems and; indeed, start wars!
Public (US)
We will see what happens. Twitter is a transnational public square used for communication by world leaders, scientists, and journalists of course. A public square for discussion with themselves and the public. The moderators at Twitter arbitrarily banned Trump but actually kept the supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah. Ban both. Or ban neither, depending on the criteria for banning.
Robert (Wisconsin)
Seems kind of odd for someone to spend $44B to give Mr. Trump his megaphone back. Could think of many better uses for Mr. Musk's money. Especially since Mr. Trump has his very own itty bitty Mr. Microphone of his own.
Baruch (Taos NM)
The best thing anyone do with twitter is to ignore it. At best it's a waste of time, at worst it's destructive propaganda.
Center Boomer (San Francisco)
@Baruch Their algorithm would purposely send the most inflammatory tripe to my feed. Deactivated - and it feels so good!
DavidJ (NJ)
What’s this about an oligarchy existing only in Russia?
Markem (California)
I am willing to give Musk a chance. Can you place editorial control in the hands of users? I just want some sliders or buttons to easily choose my own content filters. Most people do not want the vitriol and conspiracies. Let the user turn it off. Parental controls for the rest of us. People can spew all the nonsense and hate they want but few people will see it. Now that is free speech: the ability to say what you want and to silence anyone— just like real life. In the hands of the individual, freedom is the the ability to shut down others even as you speak your mind. Or is it like the ludovico treatment in which you cannot close your eyes to violence and hate?
Bird (Everywhere)
@Markem You can chose to follow only those people you know personally. That control is already yours.
firlfriend (usa)
Can't wait to see how this turns out. He had to sell over 12 billion of his shares of Tesla. Also, he has 19 investors, can't wait for Morgan-Stanley, and a Saudi prince to have their hands out waiting to be paid back for their loans. Well, the banks gave the loans. Saudi prince had shares. I believe worth 30 billion or something ridiculously high. Musk does not have to pay back the loans, twitter has to. He does not want ads. How is he going to pay back the loans to these banks? Also, he still has a court case in Delaware, regarding a shareholder in Tesla. That is in Nov. Also, there are three other shareholders who may also end up in this court. Surely, nothing can go wrong with this. Ha.
Thick Brick (Glen Cove, NY)
If all you want to do is chat with friends, or post your vacation pictures, you don’t need to involve a big tech company at all. Learn to create and maintain your own web site. It’s not that hard. Plenty of tools and pre-canned ones available. These big tech companies are repackaging capabilities that are mostly already built into the internet.
M Ford (USA)
I never realize how conservative the Democrats and the liberal media have become compared to Republicans until something new comes along. Progressive Republicans embrace diversity and have taken the lead in national civil rights advancement. Elon Musk supports free speech. Republican civil rights leaders are fighting racial discrimination at Harvard. It can be scary for ultra conservative people to experience change. We'll all have to go through this progressive advancement, will some people taking it harder than others.
Ivy (Virginia)
@M Ford What in the world are you referring to? These are contradictory perspectives and mismatched talking points from very different sides of the political spectrum. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a test run of future messaging to come.
Hendrik (Fort Bragg, California)
@M Ford. You seem to be missing the point of this piece entirely.
travis (NYC)
@M Ford is this satire? I'm not sure how that content moderation court is that free speech you all talk about you want. Sound like a con job to me. Enjoy
D (Minneapolis)
Social media is toxic, and as others have pointed out, all these platforms care about is making money and they will do anything to achieve this. The first amendment and censorship are not mutually exclusive, a free society that excludes hate can exist and is not a utopian idea, merely common sense and decency.
Todd Stuart (Key West)
@DThe first amendment and censorship of speech are clearly mutually exclusive. Hate speech is protected and 200 years of jurisprudence backs that up. Speech that offends no one doesn't need any protection, that should be obvious. But feel free to start a movement to repeal the First Amendment.
Clown Dream (NC)
@Todd Stuart First Amendment only applies to the government. Private businesses don't have to let anybody say anything. You can kick people out of a bar for some of the things they say on Twitter. Twitter has the right to kick them off for any reason, or no reason.
Todd Stuart (Key West)
@Clown Dream True but D brought up the First Amendment and seemed to think that it didn't or shouldn't protect all speech. I assume that she was talking about more than just private companies.
Gregory (Ardsley, NY)
Human beings are fairly predictable. Human beings want power. It has always been this way, and it always will be. Our destiny as a species is already decided. Let's all be nice and enjoy our ship slowly going down. It's ok. It never could have been any different.
Todd Stuart (Key West)
I generally think that Twitter is a net minus for the world. The format requires every issue to be reduced to a few lines. That is reductive and eliminates nuance in a nuanced world. But that said the whining of the left that Musk taking over is a disaster doesn’t ring true to me. The clear left leaning biases that the workers censoring content at Twitter have shown are bad both for the company going forward and for society at large. Keeping it from becoming a hellscape isn’t that same as deciding only one sides views are legitimate. And unless we turn all social media into public utilities someone has to own them. And Musk seems no worse than anyone else.
Michael Blazin (Dallas, TX)
Simply publishing the justifications by citation, date, and time plus the reasoning against which other bans and non-bans can compare plus the individual (use an ID) that made the decision will go a long way towards transparency. It should be easy to do comparisons of what got banned and what did not get banned and what were the trends of particular employees.
Curious (Marfa, Texas)
Good one. Spend $44 billion on a meaningless social media platform. Shows you where his priorities are.
Jose Pieste (OH)
Twitter was never a "threat to titans." However, it is now a threat to the Democratic Party and its propagandists in the liberal media who are absolutely freaking out at the idea that conservative political opinion will no longer be muzzled.
Claus Holm (Denmark)
@Jose Pieste The conservatives in the USA are responsible for the threath to democracy in the US. And so many follow Trump down the path of lies and hate. This will only make that worse.
Clown Dream (NC)
@Jose Pieste Trying to overthrow a democracy by lying about a rigged election is "conservative political opinion"?
Alice (California)
I’m not concerned about conservative opinions, I’m concerned about the people who complain endlessly about cancel culture, sometimes perhaps rightfully so, but then turn a blind eye to the mobs of bad faith actors spewing hate and misinformation and targeting the personal and professional lives of left wing Twitter users—canceling them, you could say. It’s almost like it’s only “cancel culture” when leftists do it. Cancel culture is not the exclusive province of leftists, it is pervasive across the political spectrum, but please, continue with this self-congratulatory narrative that conservatives are the protectors of free speech while right-wing extremists harass and threaten violence against people who disagree with them.
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
Many racist and hateful memes have already shown up on Twitter. The trolls didn't waste any time. I also read that a few big advertisers have suspended ads. It will all get away from Musk pretty quickly if he doesn't get a handle on it.
John Smithson (California)
@Ms. Pea The trolls are being dealt with. None of Twitter's moderation policies have changed yet.
Jose Pieste (OH)
@Ms. Pea I suspect many of those “racists” are Democratic Party operatives who are aiming to discredit a social media platform that will no longer muzzle conservative political opinion.
Eva Lockhart (Minneapolis)
Quit Twitter people! Don't support this egomaniac.
Cerebral Sponge (NY)
If those that are fired start a new social media platform I could see many leaving Twitter for it.
I just deleted my account this morning. I don't want to be part of this.
@JPH Reading now how Musk fired the executives, specially the lady who excluded Trump after violent incentives on his part through Twitter and how Musk had them escorted out of the headquarters, I am glad I terminated my Twitter account .
Beautiful Day (Somewhere Great)
All social media platforms start as scrappy, populist ventures giving voice to the average person. But ultimately, they’re businesses. The companies have to make money. And the users, over time, learn to game the platforms for their own benefit. Nothing stays pure and simple and Twitter won’t go back to being a scrappy underdog. Remember in the 2010s, when people swayed by the power of Twitter were talking about how crowd sourcing would replace journalism? but then they discovered that average people are unreliable and inaccurate - professionalism in information reporting still matters. Which is why Twitter is a cesspool of misinformation.
David Ullman (Washington)
I once had an account. It was OK but when Trump arrived, along with all his Trumpers, I decided Twitter was something I didn't need. Frankly, I think I'm against" social media" in general. I'm weary of hearing about Trump. I'n now weary of Musk.
Incognito (California)
@David Ullman As far as Trump goes, nothing has changed because they continue to post his nauseating rants from Truth Social as clickbait. It will only get worse. Who needs that?
Mico (NY)
The era of the cult of personality with considerable power has come. Trust no one person, they do not have the answers should be taught in schools.
Stave (Chatham, ON)
As Twitter became more popular, it became a much-loved tool for journalists. Journalists have kept Twitter front and centre ever since and are, in large part, responsible for its success. I haven't been a big user of it though, it takes up far too much time and is populated by too many people I really wouldn't want to meet, as well as too few I would. Lies and disinformation are freely traded and certain users were, and still may be, free of some of the constraints of regular users. I've ditched Twitter now that Musk has bought it and I already feel better for it. Now all I have to do is to ignore all the other platforms that seem to exist solely to repeat Twitter content.
Marc (NYC)
Perhaps Elon Musk and Twiiter will e the undoing of each other. Musk is the world's most overrated businessman; who created his wealth by exploiting government subsidies at Tesla and Space X. Twitter is the world's most overrated social media business; it has 240 M users but has only had 2 profitable years. 24% of Twitter users create 97% of all tweets and the reality is most of the world doesn't use it or want it. It could be an "emperor has no clothes" moment when Twitter does down the drain with the great Mr. Musk at the helm.
Lyle Ross (Houston)
"The bird is freed... but I'll step on anyone who crosses me." Oh Elon, you aren't Edison, he actually invented. And you're not Tony Stark, he's a fictional character who... well he invented too. You're no Hearst, yes, your ego is as big, but he actually understood media. Nope, you're just a Jeff Bezos who wants his own self promotion outlet. Yes, Twitter will soon be tweeting about your brilliance and inventiveness, bwa ha ha ha. Sorry, I can't say that without laughing. Get back to us when you've actually invented something, anything. And no, hiring a bunch of engineers and taking credit for their work isn't inventive. Businessperson have been doing that as long as there's been greed and egos.
Counter Measures (Old Borough Park, NY)
Expect to see a lot more venom on Twitter! Watch Fox News or Newsmax, essentially the mouthpieces of the new Republican party, for forty-eight hours, and one can confirm that The Gutter Has Come To Power, across our American political landscape!
Alice (California)
After watching more than a few leftist content creators get dogpiled and doxed by alt-right mobs on Twitter, I find this idea some people have that Twitter has been protecting “Left-wing orthodoxy” or suppressing conservative ideas to be tragically off the mark. I am similarly troubled by this almost messianic belief some people have that Musk is some sort of Free Speech Warrior who is going to save Twitter. Over the years we have seen Musk transform from a reasonable, forward-looking entrepreneur into an erratic ego-maniac opportunistically harnessing the mob. I suppose it’s yet another example of the “genius” curse, people look at your impressive accomplishments and become convinced you are the second coming and can do no wrong, and after a while you start to believe it yourself and go off the deep end. This will all almost certainly end in bitter disappointment.
Manny Regala (Pomona, So California)
Musk has taken a big responsibility. Now he must be fair, and make Tweeter profitable or lose his shirt and his soul. Hw will be hated from all sides, from time to time, sometimes and almost every time. Elon make us proud.
Prof (Michigan)
What is disturbing is that Musk is not just unpredictable, he appears to be becoming more and more unstable. Twitter is not going to be a reliable platform for a "town square". If you criticize things Musk likes, you can be banned. Musk has already indicated that he supports fascists, e.g., Orban, Trump, etc. So I expect the extreme right wing will be taking over Twitter. Some speculate if Musk allows too much far right racist and anti-Semitic content that advertisers may pull out. But Musk does not need their money. He has more money than he could possibly spend. For Musk, Twitter is not a business venture, it is a toy he needs to constantly fluff his ego. I started on Twitter to follow journalists and experts. I hope they leave twitter and move to something else. Probably something that doesn't exist yet. But in a real capitalist society, something meeting that need will arise.
firlfriend (usa)
@Prof Yes, but most of his money is tied up in stocks. Actually, in Tesla. Not like he invented the electric car. That would be Nikola Tesla. Also, he has a lot of investors, a large group being from Saudi Arabia. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
JD Gold (Brooklyn)
This is a perfect example of the “Progressive” delusion: billion dollar companies, journalists for the most establishment, dominant media outlets in the world, academic commentators that use their clout and money to shut out any dissent, disagreement, or even request to be heard imagining they are somehow the “underdogs” and “voice of the little people” because they have cloaked themselves in false, self-serving victim narratives.
Tj (texas)
I'm sure his executive DNA will get in gear when he sees the plummeting profit returns of a 4-chan "free speech" model. I'm seeing a future of empty free-speech posturing with solutions that are 6 months too late for tech-advertising execs that moved on to Tik-Tok and Instagram, or whatever Twitter knock-off that takes off. The staff he cuts have the know-how to spin up competing apps before he gets what he wants from the left-over Twitter knowledge base.
Roger (Pa)
I feel sorry for Mr. Musk. This story has been up a long time and no one has commented. I'm empathetic. I'll get the ball rolling for Mr. Musk. No one should feel slighted or undervalued in the USA. Congratulations, Mr. Musk. One thought. If you allow Mr. Trump back on, keep in mind your superior bargaining position. You might even come out with a membership in his Govt. Doc. Warehouse in FL if you play your cards right.
firlfriend (usa)
@Roger Can't wait to see how he handles his 19 investors. He does own this outright by himself. One of his investors is a Saudi Prince. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that. Also, those investors want to see twitter pay off for them. He said he is going to get rid of ads, then how will he pay his investors? Also, twitter is basically free, with the exception of a section called Twitter Blue. Whatever that is. Wonder what he will do for zoos around the country who are on twitter, giving updates on zoos near where you live. Is he going to charge them to be on twitter?
Roger (Pa)
@firlfriend Good points. You did mean "He doesn't own," right and not "does own?"
Pete Fisher (Southwest)
Never have had a Twitter account and probably never will. Of course, I have read news accounts of various tweets and tweeters. In regard to one of it's more famous banned users; I always felt Twitter revealed Trump's ignorance, insecurities, and shortcomings more than anything. The idea that any kind of medium should allow an absolutely "anything goes" policy will induce that medium to produce an absolute anarchic cacophony, that is metaphorically like trying to find a tasteful bite in an unkept garbage dumpster. I don't dumpster dive, never have. hopefully never will. The saddest thing about Twitter, Facebook and the like is that the inability of too many individuals to differentiate substance from garbage may so profoundly contribute to the end of our democracy.
firlfriend (usa)
@Pete Fisher Me too. NYT and Daily Kos is all I comment on. Also, there are faces, and there are books, but no facebooks.
Jonathan Janov (02554)
Twitter is like a box of Oreos. It might be enticing at first but if one continues to consume it will be worse off in the end. One doesn’t need Twitter. I rejoined Twitter a couple of months ago after quitting it a few years ago. I’ve deleted my account once again because, as I’ve suspected, it’s an even worse toxic place of pure macho negativity that would put triathletes to shame. I’m very close to deleting my Instagram and then I’ll be social media free.
Lauren B (Wisconsin)
Welcome to the new age of robber barons. What will Musk’s rosebud be?
Brian (Denver)
$44 billion for a decade old company that routinely loses $100s of million of dollars. Allowing racists and bigots to spew more disinformation isn’t going to make the cesspool that is Twitter profitable. Musk could have spent his money in ways that could have helped humanity.
Jens Praestgaard (Boston)
The cancel culture mobs who police twitter have never been "underdogs" in any true sense of the word.
Heidi Laursen (Orcas Island, WA)
The main reason Twitter mattered is journalists were obsessed with it and elevated it beyond it’s merits. It was a cesspool of egos. And by far the worse echo chamber. Since Musk’s offer there have largely been two responses: people looking forward to speaking without fear and people afraid. People are legit scared of free speech. Not actual hate speech, or threats or misbehavior. Like alternate views of reality. The left associates free speech with the right, which blows my mind because my liberal arts education held it as a cornerstone to thought. Thought leaders who refuse to debate. Policies developed on theory instead of data. The ends justify the means. It’s so obviously bad, but apparently we’re supposed to learn these things again. Unless we can overcorrect. If there’s a red wave this will be a contributing factor.
firlfriend (usa)
@Heidi Laursen Liberals want free speech, they just don't people to justify lies, hatred. Ye is back on. That should be interesting.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Too bad, another Social Media outlet (Twitter) losing such a necessary, and humbling, method for keeping honesty alive...via constructive criticism...and a platform true to the facts, independent of who owns this company. If despicable individuals 'a la Trump and Kanye West' are allowed to re-enter Twitter and destroy all credibility by trampling on the truth, and implant hate, resentments and revenge, Elon Musk may be called complicit in such an assault of decency. And crucify democracy!
reality check (nyc)
rebels? really? Rebels who suppressed information about Wuhan, Fauci funding of gain of function research, lockdown costs and comp stats and papers about Covid policies in countries like Sweden and also suppressed the Hunter laptop information, climate policies flaws data and ad infinitum. Wild rebels indeed. I love the posts by people who are closing their accounts now as presumably contrary opinions supported by facts would hurt their feelings and egos. Twitter was a cult with too much influence over public discourse and subsequent quality of policy making. We are all paying price for it now. Be it kid's scores or collapse in trust of institutions and experts or energy shortages.
firlfriend (usa)
@reality check No, there was no gain of function except the man that travels to areas where bats are. Also, there are more recent posts that it was not engineered in a lab. Did you read the article the other day about climate change and how that will change viruses and how they will run rampant. You sound just like Rand Paul. When people encroach on habitat meant for animals, what do you think will happen, it disturbs all of the animals, they get stressed and many of the viruses spread from the bats. Bats carry over 300 coronoviruses.
D. Renner (Oregon)
I don’t think it was engineered. That’s a red herring. It could still have been a wild virus, that escaped the lab. This in fact seems as likely as from a wild animal market. The fact that lab had the proximity to the epicenter of Covid is too convenient to ignore. Studying this type of deadly virus is exactly what that lab in Wuhan does. Human error could easily have been involved.
Michael Blazin (Dallas, TX)
Why is Twitter under Elon Musk any different that the Twitter of Arab Spring et al? To my knowledge, Mr. Musk has no intention of limiting any tweets except tweets from bots. If some people that you do not like get to tweet, ban them. Problem solved.
firlfriend (usa)
@Michael Blazin He has to think about his investors. He has 19 of them. It might be private since he bought it, but he does not own it by himself. Morgan Stanley put in money. Saudi prince put in money. He had quite a few banks that put money in as loans, which twitter has to pay back. Also, Musk did not want to put in more than 15.5 billion of his own money. He is going to end up putting in over 26 billion. This money came from Musk selling Tesla shares. All of his money is tied up with Tesla.
New Yorker (New York)
More and more, it seems like the internet, and all it entails, was put here to control and enslave us.
Madeline Conant (Midwest)
Look at what happened to Nancy Pelosi's husband, and what would have happened to her, had she been home. Like night follows day, if Trump is allowed back on Twitter, he will incite bad, bad violence. He had 88.7 MILLION followers; think about it.
@Madeline Conant And look what happened to a Steve Scalise when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot him. You weren’t complaining then. Sorry, but you can censor opposing viewpoints in this country under the false pretext of “violence.”
John Smithson (California)
@Madeline Conant The man who attacked Paul Pelosi is mentally unbalanced. With any other victim he would be out of jail already. That was a serious crime, but Donald Trump and other Republicans bear no responsibility for it. Nor has Donald Trump ever incited violence of any sort. At least, not that I've ever seen. If you know of any tweet or any place else where he has done so, I'd like to see the evidence. Of course Donald Trump had a lot of followers on Twitter. Barack Obama has even more, at 133 million people. That doesn't mean that either one is causing mayhem with their tweets.
Elisa (Philly)
But of course , it’s the way the powerful operate- for themselves - for their egos. If you’re a megalomaniac you can go far in a capitalist world.
Michael (Windsor)
MUSK- what an appropriate name for the new scent of Twitter!
Jane (Boston)
I love all these articles treating Elon like he isn’t the guy who put all is money on the line making rockets that land on barges and mass production of electric cars and… Did just that.
firlfriend (usa)
@Jane It isn't like he invented the electric car. That was Nikola Tesla, and he is not related to Musk. He started the electric car company. Don't act like he is an inventor. His company Neuralink is his company that works with neuroscientists to use AI and interface computers. He says soon you can have this chip implanted in your brain, but he said it will work by using an IV in your hand. Does he think he is a neurosurgeon? The only way to use AI in the brain is to go into the brain. There is something called blood-brain barrier. That is why if a person has a glioblastoma or any other tumor you have to have a Omaya reservoir put into your brain. Then they use that to put in wafers that are actually chemotherapy. He should leave neuroscientists to the neurosurgeons.
Brian (San Francisco)
It will be a short-lived victory. The cool kids have already moved on. It would be like cornering the market for bell bottoms in 1979.
Michael (In Real America)
@Brian "The cool kids have already moved on." Actually the cool kids are about to get fired and discover there is a dwindling job market for woksters.
Gerald Keyes (Mamaroneck NY)
Someone correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t “permanently suspend “ an oxymoron? Permanent means just that, suspend is temporary. to permanently suspend Mr. Trump’s account after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
c (Pennsyltucky)
As a Jew, the rise of antisemitism and racism and other hate speech on Twitter is terrifying. Musk will use the formation of this "council" to do nothing about it, and people will climb out of their basements and pick up guns and act on this hate speech. It's scary. Hopefully advertiser will leave en masse ASAP and let Twitter become the most expensive version of 4chan, ever.
Anyhow (NYC)
Thank God this egomaniac was born in another country and therefore cannot run for President. The Administration should have blocked this purchase on national security grounds based on public comments he’s made in the past.
firlfriend (usa)
@Anyhow I know right. Also, why do some people say he is an African American? He is South African. Big difference. I believe some GOP called him African American. It was DeSantis who called him African American. DeSantis needs to study who is South African and who is not.
atb (Chicago)
I left Twitter last year. No regrets.
Osider (Vista, Ca)
Cancel your account for your sanity and because social media is bad for all. I just did.
Welcome Canada (Canada)
Twitter in the hands of a right wing nationalist, yes he is one, but with a lot of $$$. So prepare for the onslaught of propaganda thrown at people to ensure that his vision of the world is done thing very quickly. Ban Twitter.
Julio Stieffel (Miami)
Don’t have it and will never have it!
Bill B. (Not where I want to be)
Social media will go down in history for its immense contribution to the destruction of American democracy. We created a monster.
Lemuel Stein (Hometown, NY)
Have had a “bellyful” of rich guys buying media to con folks with misinformation for political purpose. Hope this one goes “belly-up!”
Elliot Silberberg (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)
Musk mis-tweeted, meant to say, “The bird is fried.”
BJ (Smyrna Ga)
The next Yahoo! Yahoo’s demise hurt many investors, this one will only hurt one, arrogant man. I hope that Democrats abandon Tesla as well — buying a Tesla is like giving money to Trump.
apparatchick (Kennesaw GA)
Fun fact: there are hundreds of millions of people who live their lives devoid of Twitter.
Dawg01 (Seattle)
When will New YorkTimes employees stop using twitter?
Sharon (L.A.)
Use if the N word is up 500% since yesterday. Thats where this is going.
vacciniumovatum (Seattle)
At a minimum, expect lots of ads for Tesla and SpaceX.
N. Smith (New York City)
I never joined the Twittersphere precisely because what it is happening today. It's already been reported that only a few hours after Elon Musk bought Twitter, the hate started spewing out of it. Freedom of speech is one thing. But these days it has also given Carte Blanche to all the voices that now threaten to drown everyone else's out. These are some very dark and perilous times. Keep hope alive. VOTE!
Citizen (NYC)
HS (Seattle)
Talk to people under 30. They’re getting their news from TikTok. Twitter must capture that demographic and must be dynamic to do so.
David (California)
This is a good point. The younger generation has a pretty low tolerance for toxic hate speech (which I find so refreshing). I don’t think Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter will do anything to win them over.
doc (oregon)
If the media stopped using Twitter as a substitute for real reporting, its influence would crater.
N. Smith (New York City)
@doc And if politicians stopped using it and actually started talking to people that would also help.
Deirdre (New Jersey)
Twitter is a sewer and it’s only going to get more violent and intolerant and racist. Outrage fuels eyeballs and eyeballs equal revenue and revenue is king even at the expense of safety and civility and quality of life Twitter is the modern version of the colosseum.
Bruce B (New Mexico)
Another victory for oligarchy
MHeneghan (Come From away)
I left.
Michael (In Real America)
@MHeneghan I joined.
my2sons (COLUMBIA)
Twitter seems so important that it has taken two columns on the Times' front page. It must be important, dead or alive.
Kevin (Freeport, NY)
You have got to be kidding?
Dorothy Wiese (San Antonio)
Twitter is now a garbage dumpster.
John Antonucci (Rochester, NY)
When things really turn bad this is how the plutocrats like Musk and Bezos will announce they are leaving the planet on their private space ships.
firlfriend (usa)
@John Antonucci Don't know how they will live in outer space. They are not astronauts, so they cannot go to the International Space station. They going to go to Mars. Oh wait, it is uninhabitable.
Tom (Canada)
How is this different than FB, Insta, TicTok, Google. Or even WaPo?
Cal (NY)
It's not like twitter was a very serious place for discourse or news either. Even before this it was a dumpster pile.
David (California)
Wait. Free speech? I thought this was supposed to be about bots now. I wish Elon Musk would make up his mind about why the vast majority of us who don’t have Twitter accounts should care about why he massively overpaid for a microblogging platform.
Brian W. (LA, CA.)
My fervent hope is that Musk's loss-avoidance system, the one that sensed a sure loss in Delaware court, won't save him from losing his cloaca by purchasing Twitter. I closed my account as soon as he initiated the purchase. We don't miss each other even a little bit.
firlfriend (usa)
@Brian W. Now that he bought twitter, I don't know that they have a case with that. However, the judge in Delaware is also presiding over shareholders from Tesla. They said he unjustly enriches himself from his shares. As much money as he says he has, (most of it tied up in shares of Tesla, as he had to sell over 12 billion in shares). you think he could buy himself a boat or yacht. I am glad he didn't, but he is always on someone else's yacht.
Doc (PA)
Musk bought Twitter, so I just quit. Hopefully loss of users and then advertisers will reduce the value of this absurd private acquisition.
Tony (Sammamish, WA)
How many people actually use Twitter? Sometimes it feels like we’re making mountains out of mole hills…alternative realities, so to speak.
N. Smith (New York City)
@Tony The truly frightening thing is not how many actually use Twitter -- but how many use it as their sole source of getting news.
Vivek (India)
Twitter was never free. It already belonged to a despotic Titan. By the name - Leftist Orthodoxy. We now look forward to a more democratic Twitter with a sane head on its shoulders, and displaying views from both sides of the aisle.
dlinovaz (Tucson)
You can use Musk's Twitter to thank your buddy Modi for all he hasn't done to promote democracy.
EW (🌍)
Twitter has always displayed views from both sides but there are some lines that should be drawn in a civilized society. Anyone who promotes hate, violence, etc whether left or right, shouldn't have a platform on which to do so.
K (NJ)
Really??? C’mon man!
nerdrage (SF)
Twitter has always had one function: as an advertising platform. Not a very successful one either, which is where its financial problems come from. Either Elon gets it to serve advertisers better or it goes away. In neither case is it the friend of the common person. If you use Twitter, you're a product, nothing more.
John Smith (Oklahoma)
Remember when Trump was elected and we all collectively held our breath? For about a year he seemed almost normal and did very little. Then he upended democracy and continues to do so. A single tweet from Musk that there will be ‘committee’ to review reinstating tyrants, seditionists, and traitors made us all collectively breath a sigh of relief. I shouldn’t have believed it then and I don’t believe it now. There is nothing capricious despite the publicity generating drama Musk created about his purchase. He is a disciple of Peter Thiel. He lives in Texas. He has declared his world views numerous times. There is no reason to believe that the banal word snippets that are Twitter will not be used to further the agendas of Trump, tyrants, and seditionists. And as long as our government has no clear set policies that criminalize antisemitism, hate speech, and bullying they will get away with murder.
Pete (California)
Online enterprises, the internet itself, were created by idealistic coders who fiercely defended their work as empowering human potential against the entrenched structures of society. They were wrong. They were, in fact, arrogantly wrong and stubborn. Greed and wealth harvested by a few hustlers turned their work into the most dangerous instrument of propaganda and manipulation the wealthy masters of the world have ever possessed. Now, if engineers and all the techcicians at twitter rebelled and refused to work for the evil genius, that would redeem them. How much do they really care about freedom and truth? Or do they really only care about a Tesla in every pot?
nerdrage (SF)
@Pete The internet was created by the Department of Defense in the 1960s as a way to share information between government and academia. Its "daisy chain" decentralized structure that has made it such a success was originally designed to let it survive a nuclear war. If you want to retcon that into some noble David and Goliath saga, be my guest, but the internet has always served the powers that be, and was created by the powers that be to serve their interests.
Pete (California)
@nerdrage Oversimplified
EdgeNinja (Queens)
An uncomfortable truth that conservatives are unwilling to acknowledge is that the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to private corporations. Twitter, or Parlor, or Truthsocial, are free to make any rules they like and ban anyone they like for whatever reason they like. When the Right trumpets "Freedom of Speech" they really mean "Freedom from Consequences." If they're so tired of being "cancelled" then maybe they should cease the conspiratorial and White Supremacist rhetoric that's been polluting our discourse ever since Trump became president.
nerdrage (SF)
@EdgeNinja Twitter actually serves its corporate advertisers - or needs to, if it's ever going to be a sustainable business. Corporations don't need to follow the First Amendment but they could skew right, left or middle, whatever the advertisers want. The really uncomfortable trust for "conservatives" is that they are actually loony radicals, that the true conservatives deplore. It's getting so the only true conservatives around are corporations, which run Twitter and place advertising on Twitter, so they're bound to get their way while the radicals fume and throw a fit.
Simon K. (Seattle)
Exactly. And now under new private ownership I’ll be able to say men are not women and not get kicked off.
Mark Bee (Oakland, CA)
I am worried at what Twitter will become... Local paper after local paper didnt really dig deep into the insane and delusional policies and beliefs of the SF DA, Chesa Boudin. It was the tweeters that revealed how wrong and horrible he was as DA and that is what made the recall successful. You see, our papers are being gobbled up by the hedge funds and now we have Elon being at the helm of Twitter.
nerdrage (SF)
@Mark Bee First off, please don't use Twitter as a news source. It's just entertainment.
Wiffley (Oregon)
This will be Musk's undoing. It is his bridge too far....
JP (Portland OR)
Twitter can now follow Truth Social into obscurity. Time to find sn alternative and leave Musk with a $44B mistake.
JTH (Seattle, WA)
Let’s not forget the greedy executives who agreed to sell to Musk, who clearly don’t give a darn about this country by agreeing to such a sale. It would be nice to read an expose about who these villains and what their backgrounds are. Certainly the opposite of heroes. Some day their kids will understand the consequences of their parents actions and unfortunately these kids will have to live with it. Perhaps explain that at your dinner table, execs.
Amanda V. (Saratoga Springs, NY)
It’s rare when I read an article well written or insightful enough that I scroll up see who authored it. Well done, Kevin Roose. And thanks for good read.
Edward Blau (Wisconsin)
As someone who never uses Twitter, it is hard for me to believe that those who possess authority either by being elected or the dukes of Wall Street or Billionaires could be shaken by a torrent of negative tweets.
nerdrage (SF)
@Edward Blau I looked at Twitter once for about ten seconds and left. Ditto for Facebook. Doesn't everyone grasp how these businesses work yet? They sell a product, the users, to the true customers, the advertisers. If you use it, fine, but you're agreeing to being treated as a product. Twitter's main problem is that it doesn't make enough money because it doesn't serve advertisers well enough. And that business is getting even rougher now, going into a recession when ad budgets usually get slashed. Now there's much more advertising-safe options opening up with Disney+ and Netflix offering ad tiers and hundreds of millions of viewers who haven't been saturated with ads yet. Not much chance of your ads running next to some racist rant on Disney+, is there? So that means the pressure will be on Musk to cater to advertisers in all things. This could mean the right wing looneys get squelched since advertisers don't value that content. But the kind of content they do value is: safe, uncontroversial, vanilla. Maybe a lot more emphasis on positive reviews of their fine products? Doesn't sound like Twitter is ever going to become something that interests me.
RD (Colorado)
I’m a semi heavy Twitter user as a sports fan and politics junkie. I would be missing it if it went away. If people start leaving in droves and it collapses, that would be almost as entertaining. The way Elon treats engineers as his “property” and obviously all the awful things he’s said makes it easy to root against him. I think that whatever competitor appears will likely have better features and content moderation than the current iteration of Twitter. I’ve been moving to Reddit for more intelligent discussions with slightly more depth.
Peter (Minneapolis)
Good reason to quit Twitter. You dont need it in your life- in fact I'd say life is better without an algorithm feeding you content you probably are better off not seeing. When Twitter gave a push notification to my phone of a Donald Trump tweet I immediately deactivated my account and uninstalled the app. I dont need an app pushing Donald Trump's word to my phone. Hopefully many people follow suit.
Raymond (P)
@Peter Yeah, I got that notification and did exactly what you did. Couldn't believe it only took Elon one day to reinstate that account.
G. Hertz (Manhattan)
I’m glad that I don’t have a twitter account that would end forcing on my mind thoughts that could be orchestrated by organizations that are hidden somewhere else. With Musk in charge of twitter, the young generations, looking for news and leadership there … Musk is now the leader of the “free” world.
TastetheDifference (Cwmbran, UK)
Musk is going to add business value to Twitter, by copying the Chinese WeChat messaging system. As well as messaging, you can order a cab, food delivery, send & receive money.
nerdrage (SF)
@TastetheDifference I'm sure the ride share, food delivery and banking industries will love those features, and the advertising opportunities they provide. The content on Twitter will be skewed towards whatever supports the advertisers' businesses, which means the racist rants have got to go. Advertisers hate being associated with that muck. Anything controversial will follow. Twitter will evolve (devolve?) into a safe, bland, vanilla advertising platform. Have fun, folks.
nerdrage (SF)
@TastetheDifference I'm sure the ride share, food delivery and banking industries will love those features, and the advertising opportunities they provide. The content on Twitter will be skewed towards whatever supports the advertisers' business, which means the racist rants have got to go. Advertisers hate being associated with that muck. Anything conversion will follow. Twitter will be a safe, bland, vanilla advertising platform. Have fun, folks.
nordpack (Boston)
Not so much about the "left" but the new shaping of the internet in general. So who really needs the Twitter?? Hard question to answer?? None really that lives a healthy and exciting life!
Ben (Denver)
Twitter will be out of business in 5-10 years under Musk.
MSPWEHO (West Hollywood, CA)
Musk, the cartoon villain--the Riddler to Trump's Joker and Ye's Penguin perhaps?--tweets a daunting message about entering Twitter headquarters, with the inference being that he is about to wreak havoc on the status quo. I hope to high heavens that DOJ is already investigating this guy. No one possesses tens of billions of dollars without being utterly corrupt. Get on it, Merrick Garland! There's a whole lot more corruption to investigate beyond the halls of Mar a Lago.
Simon K. (Seattle)
He doesn’t “possess” tens of billions of dollars. His assets are worth that.
Andrew (Denver)
@MSPWEHO Oh, you mean like Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and... Jack Dorsey the former "Mr. Natural" of Twitter?
PeterC (BearTerritory)
Media and elites obsess on and love Twitter and it’s mud wrestling but it is a trivial platform ignored by and indifferent to the lives of most Americans.
Slackjawed (Western US)
Let the disinformation flow. Russia will win this war instead of Ukraine.
northlander (Michigan)
Quit. It’s also free.
Benoit Lamoureux (Boston, Mass.)
Fear mongering at its best right here. Thank you nyu.
Stephen McLaughlin (Massachusetts)
We could all get off social media and live in the real world then we wouldn’t have to worry about who is controlling it
Sixofone (The Village)
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in America is that good men keep their Twitter accounts. Quit Twitter. Quit it now. Starve it of the oxygen advertisers need for it to be a worthwhile expense by leaving it to the cyanobacteria who Musk is inviting in for a swim.
SIT (Santa Monica)
Twitter acquisition. Who are the other investors and those who provide the liquidity? It will be good to know their vision in this investment and agenda .
nerdrage (SF)
@SIT Other investors? Musk is the richest man in the world, does he really need help spending money? Investors just offer seed money and expect to be paid back. The real question is, where's the ongoing money coming from that will keep Twitter alive for years? Advertisers. GM has already pulled their advertising, waiting to see what Musk does with Twitter. If he lets the looneys continue to create a hellscape, they won't be back. Disney+ and Netflix have ad based tiers now. Maybe GM would rather reach those audiences. The advertisers will run things in the end, and their agenda is obvious. If Twitter is going to survive, it needs to become a safe and effective platform for selling stuff. The alternative is for Musk to figure out how to get people to pay a subscription. Good luck with that.
SIT (Santa Monica)
@nerdrage Normally no matter how rich the lead investor is others are invited to join ie consortium of bankers, investment institutions and individuals. I say that based on experience. A Goldman Sacks for example might have a different political or a business agenda different from that of Musk @nerdrage
Mauidoc (Island Paradise)
Should we consider the likelihood of China holding Tesla in China “hostage" unless Musk allows certain information or bots to be disseminated secretly on Twitter. As Tesla makes up the core of his empire, how might this individual respond? Protect his country (?USA) or his wealth and company. For all the concern about Chinese influence in other sectors of our society and the CCPs willingness to engage in cyber influence, the silence on this obvious issue is deafening. When one man makes the decisions about society’s open forum, who knows.
John Tollefson (Banks Mtn NC)
Looks like it will be the next MySpace.
JoeGiul (Florida)
What is every one afraid of? A platform that allows stories to be discussed without banning people and letting anti-wester zealots have their say? Or allowing 31 intelligent officials to lie about a laptop? I hope he buys Google and Facebook too.
TastetheDifference (Cwmbran, UK)
If Donald Trump goes back on Twitter, then Truth Social was a waste of money.
Message to Mr Musk. Be careful what you wish for, As sometimes it becomes a bridge too far. Time will tell.
Jane (Boston)
I find it amusing when people say Twitter should be for the underdogs and downtrodden… And completely miss that : Trump was the ultimate political underdog. He represented people who felt they were the downtrodden forgotten by both left and right. Trump and followers used Twitter to spread their message.
Megan Broh (Portland OR)
Trump makes fun of the downtrodden. He’s a con man. Open your eyes.
Sidney Ford (Baltimore)
@Jane — Trumped *posed as* “the ultimate political underdog.” Surely it is painfully obvious to all that his act is a ginormous con, one that dwarfs that of any other contender one could summon by way of comparison. He represents no one but himself.
nerdrage (SF)
@Jane He conned people who felt they were downtrodden on the right and proceeded to do nothing for them. Left wingers have Bernie Sanders to gravitate around. Downtrodden right wingers should check out Sanders, he's a populist but not a con man.
Commenter (MN)
Isn't it amazing that Twitter could easily vanish with the flick of a fickle switch when users get bored and move on?
VK (Manhattan, NY)
Hard to imagine that happening given how much of an industry is built, by those same users, on the platform. I am standing up a nonprofit and of all platforms, I find Twitter very useful. As a private person, I only saw the noise coming out of it and therefore steered clear. Now I recognize its value. Free speech and search for audiences can be a fickle partner.
Commenter (MN)
@VK I've been dealing with tech long enough that I believe, "Just about the time something gets really, really good it becomes obsolete!" ;)
nerdrage (SF)
@VK I can see Twitter becoming a platform for selling stuff, mainly products but also politics and nonprofit fundraising, as an ad-supported free platform. Musk could solve his money problems by making sure those who benefit from the platform are cutting him in on the money they make or raise. The question is, why would anyone who isn't trying to sell something ever bother with it? I can find out about all the stuff that interests me in other ways. I don't need Twitter at all.
Opus (Cape Cod)
Alas we have a new toy for the bored and wealthy. It was just a matter of time before a mass media marketing tool was used or misused for a variety of ego driven if not nefarious utterings, so much for curation to protect the value of the company. The reality is Twitter makes it money from advertising, if it becomes a swamp of fringe groups and crazies, what advertiser will want to be associated with it and there goes the profitability and the investment by Musk. anyone for a good book!
DM (Here)
@Opus “If it becomes a swamp…” ???? Too late! Twitter is a landfill of garbage with conspiracy theories, lies, violence and vitriol. The best thing that can happen is for people to quit Twitter and let it just die off…
nerdrage (SF)
@DM That muck can be driven away by good content moderation. And content moderation is mandatory if Musk expects to have advertisers at all. Fundamentally Twitter is a place that organizations and businesses use to sell something - products, politics, etc. Musk could solve his money problems simply by demanding a cut of the profits, as the landlord. Most of the expense will be hiring thousands of content moderators to keep the hellscape at bay. Anyone with a legit business should be happy to contribute to keeping Twitter reasonably non-toxic. The people contributing to the hellscape should be banned as part of this hygienic operation. Free speech has nothing to do with this since the First Amendment says the government can't censor speech. It says nothing about businesses censoring speech and they do that all the time. The NY Times censors nasty comments for example. And it doesn't automatically publish articles from every bozo who comes along.
Dman (Portland, OR)
Anyone complaining that Mr. Musk now controls Twitter should deactivate their Twitter account. If enough people did that, especially enough people with verified accounts, Twitter would collapse as a common digital town square, which is what Mr. Musk says he wants.
Walker (Santa Barbara)
Twitter magnifies group-thought, and instead of serving the needs of the powerful corporatists, as this article suggests, it has mostly just created groupthink mobs that attack people for perceived misdeeds. It's been great for disgruntled employees and "activists" as a tool to cancel your enemies, and the former management empowered those on the progressive side of the spectrum to do that while conspicuously denying dissent. Musk can only be an improvement.
porterpnyc (New York)
@Walker An improvement? I highly doubt it.
Evan (Berlin)
Those who still embrace a revolutionary spirit must quit Twitter immediately (I did when the deal was first announced). I promise you won't miss it. Those who do not may tweet on.
Roger (Pa)
This article mentions power many times. If people want real power to make real change, they should get away from social media platforms and spend that time spent advancing Democracy in the USA. Social media impoverishes most while it enriches a handful. It tends to rob individuals of two irreplaceable things, their time and independent thought, making them vulnerable to becoming cookie cutter humans. An argument could be made for social media being a tool for collectivists and authoritarians. No one wants that.
New Senior (NYC)
Does this change of ownership really matter or is it a case of: "Meet the new boss Same as the old boss " (Again) As for me my bank account and quality of life neither go up or down for anything Musk does or doesn't do (as far as I know).
LMartin (UT/FL)
I must have missed the concern about Bezos owning the WaPo, or a single family dominating the management of the Times. The concern here is so transparently political that it strains credulity. Rich and powerful people buy things and run companies- hardly news. It’s only news if the press doesn’t like their politics.
San (USA)
@LMartin Exactly! Like Fox “news”
Lynn Smith (Eureka)
Jeff Bezos and the Salzburgers do not regularly publish front page stories in the newspapers they own, nor would the papers allow them to. If you can’t see the difference, you don’t understand how media works.
LMartin (UT/FL)
@Lynn Smith Classic progressive. Yes, I do understand and even so, disagree with you. And if you think the Times ownership doesn’t influence coverage, it’s not me who is misunderstanding.
Jen (Portland)
Looking forward to hearing in the coming years how Twitter will be a casebook study on how a $44 billion acquisition became a catastrophic disaster that proved worthless. Never used Twitter. Never will. I hear people are already fleeing in droves. With a country so obviously divided who would buy a broken car with only 2 tires on it?
Underdog (Virginia Beach, VA)
Twitter is the most dangerous propaganda source since World War II with Tokyo Rose. And we are letting it in willingly though it may help destroy our democracy. We need another Voice of America to combat it like was done in World War II.
c (Pennsyltucky)
@Underdog Tokyo Rose wasn't dangerous at all. The troops loved it because they heard a familiar American voice and American music and they made fun of the propoganda. No one was convinced to desert or turn against the US by Tokyo Rose. She was eventually pardoned too as she was an unwilling participant. She was visiting family and got stuck there because of the war.
ondelette (San Jose)
@Underdog Really? The Myanmar ethnic cleansing was propagated on Facebook. The Christchurch killings were broadcast on 8chan (now 8kun). The torture and murder in Detroit was broadcast on Facebook Live. The Jan. 6th attack was worked out largely on Telegram. Al Qaeda organizes on Telegram. Recent planning for voter intimidation is happening on Parler and Gab. Trump continues his war on the United States on Truth Social. Russia influenced the U.S. 2016 elections largely on Facebook and YouTube. But Twitter is the most dangerous source of propaganda since Tokyo Rose? Why?
Skater242 (NJ)
Control the medium and you control the message. That (and data mining) is all this is about.
Monk Hagrid (California)
Excellent reminder, the medium IS the message. The Medium is named for birdbrains who don’t “write”, they “tweet”. Sitting in a quiet place surrounded by actual birdsong is rejuvenating and calming, good for your Psyche. Watching the never ending scroll of twits who vie for the most inflaming words with strangers as an audience just injects anger and frustration with the state of mind of our populace. But then, I’m here today…
AgnosticGirl (USA)
Twitter is not as easy to handle as Elon is imagining it to be. It won’t take long for advertisers to start leaving and Twitter to plummet. Kanye’s latest downfall is a good example of how you are at the mercy of corporate to run a successful enterprise. He cannot run a social media platform like his private company with few hundreds/thousand employees.
DF Paul (Los Angeles)
Here’s the true test of whether Elon is actually a “free speech absolutist”: Will he let anyone who has ever signed an NDA - including with him or his businesses - say anything they want on Twitter, with legal representation entirely paid by him? If not, he’s just another rich guy for whom “free speech” really means “opinions that are good for me”. I won’t hold my breath.
Michael Blazin (Dallas, TX)
What does an NDA have to do with this issue? All sorts of legal restrictions exist to prevent divulging different information. His statement was simply that Twitter platform should not be one of those restrictions for most situations. If you go on Twitter and reveal trade secrets, it is not up to Twitter to mitigate the legal sanctions.
LaBuffune (Los Angeles)
We are all for 'freedom of Speech' but not for misinformation and disinformation, basically lying without accountability. We also don't believe 'Freedom of Speech' is attacking or accusing another individual with words that are generally considered racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or bigoted. We think yelling "fire" in a theater is illegal and prone to death and destruction. Lucky for us, tweets don't work in theaters because I'm afraid there are a few among us willing to do that. The real problem with most social media platforms is their anonymity and lack of accountability. If people with the purpose of harm, lies, and destruction want to continue with such behavior, let's make them register for the privilege of expressing themselves. Then, if someone wants to tweet (accuse) so-and-so of doing something, or that all opposing ideas and thoughts are false - or tweeting that a person or group should be hanged let them write it and, let us and their neighbors see who they are. Pull the curtain away. I agree this is a terrible remedy. It is very anti 'Free Speech,' but sometimes you use whatever you have to put out the fire.
Chip (USA)
"That narrative" (of a populist Twitter) ended when The Pope, the British Monarchy and Obama started tweeting. One would think it obvious. The internet as a medium of popular, open inter-communication ended the minute it became a vehicle for monetizing and advertising. It preserved the illusion of an two way street when in actuality it became a collection of one way-broadcasts aided by algorithms that favoured or were gamed by the powerful and vested. The high point of the internet was the era of 9600 baud and BBS's
Rich (Western NJ)
The hilarious thing is that Twitter has little actual value. If my dream comes true and Twitter goes belly up, what are the assets Musk could sell off? Surely not $44B worth of servers and real estate.
Canadian Roy (Canada)
@Rich They rent from AWS and Microsoft last I looked.
Eleanor Potter (Central Coast California)
With every major newspaper blasting out several articles a day about Twitter and its ownership, the press/media clearly insist on shoving it down our throats despite almost everyone trying to stay completely clear of it. I can only think of one reason: rather than send reporters out to investigate and interview people, these same reporters kick back with their mocha lattés and kombuchas, camped out on Twitter awaiting every breathless and senseless splattering of thought that any politician, celebrity, or would-be celebrity has, curates that and calls it news from the town square. When in reality it’s little more than blathering to people who really couldn’t care less. How about a story on why Medicare Part D purchased drugs cost 1/3 in Oregon what they cost patients in California for the exact same prescriptions, and how that difference is the result of lobbying and contributions sought of vertically integrated insurance companies that own the pharmacies they require patients to use on their plan? I guess it’s easier to cut and paste from a Twitter feed full of digital blather. And then all the woe is us about newspapers losing readership and subscribers. Well what do you expect?
milagro (chicago)
@Eleanor Potter Preach!!
Sgt Schulz (Oz)
@Eleanor Potter Exactly! Well said!
Dr. Juvenal Urbino (Fictional, Columbia)
@Eleanor Potter Or why Californians are paying nearly $2 more a gallon for gas (because the CA oil refinery cartel reduced production to gouge consumers in retaliation for Green legislation?). Or "republican" plans to reduce Social Security benefits by raising the eligibility age, again, to 70?
Anonymous (Washington State)
I'm really grateful for the change, I'm off twitter... now I can put my time and energies toward a more positive change.
Greg (San Diego)
Hear hear
Andrew (Denver)
It's really telling that every mainstream "journalist" I've encountered thus far, as well as several Democratic politicians, all of whom continue to rely on Twitter for their audience communications, are saying some version of the headline on this article: "That narrative — shaky as it might have been all along — officially ended this week, when Twitter became the property of the richest man in the world." When did you join Twitter, "journalists" and politicians? Was it before or after the platform became a tool for the powerful to pursue their own goals? If we're honest, we know the answer is AFTER. And to pretend that Twitter was not controlled by the oligarchy BEFORE Elon Musk bought it is just absurd.
Carlos R. Rivera (Coronado CA)
@Andrew "And to pretend that Twitter was not controlled by the oligarchy BEFORE Elon Musk bought it is just absurd. -----And one wonders if those critics would have similar complaints if George Soros had bought Twitter-------crickets?
milagro (chicago)
I use Twitter. Hate and strangely need it all at once. Feel less lonely and I know that’s awful. Have connected with many especially while watching ball games. One would have to think if it got scary-bad, the government would go after it or its users as it has done with other platforms. Who knows. This is a strange world. The government is a complex beast. I have noticed the big mouths are talking about leaving. They can no longer say whatever without a fight even if what they say has merit. A bastion of people on the left replaced by what…a bastion on the right? I think — as already true — I’m gonna just have more and more of my football buddies. I’m okay with that. I don’t yell and scream about much else and that’s not because I don’t care. I just never needed Twitter to critique. It’s really a habit that can be broken. I bet a lotta folk will add years to their lives by leaving it. Maybe the ones who join will soon discover the same and poof!
mike (San Francisco)
@milagro I think it's called a "co-dependent relationship". Some people have it with another person.. You're having it with your cell phone. -- The prognosis is not good.
David Kesler (San Francisco)
Every few years, it seems, we are reminded that we are still at the dawn of technological progress. Regulatory regimes are necessary in civil society, even though China's "regulatory regime" is quite a bit different that suppressing Trump's hate speech on a world wide megaphone. The collapse that is ongoing in the United States resides on the back of Oligarchical excess that has occurred here because of a libertarian revolution deregulating the rich while suppressing (and taxing) the rest if us. Republicanism is now built on a foundation of lies and suppression interwoven with anti-environmentalism. Wealth does not in any way equate with "genius". In my college classes I council my diverse students to always critique the use of the word "genius", for it has been fully colonized by rich white men over the centuries and in any case, is a useless and suppressing term forever mired in class differences. We are no smarter than our Hunter Gatherer ancestors. That definitely includes the tech barons. We all have tech. But tech has suppressed our intelligence even as its brought us magic. How does your iPhone really work? Governments are falling world-wide to the ultra rich. That's the brutal push towards a two-class society under all of this. Regulation based on equity, truth, freedom and protection of the Earth is the bare minimum we should hope for. Suppressing the rich would be a wonderful addition to that list.
mike (San Francisco)
@David Kesler O Brother.. More drivel from the "soak the rich' booth. -- Yes, Yes.. the rich are the cause of all my problems.-- Can't we just have a world of equity, truth, freedom, protection, drum circles & sing-a-longs..! -- All we need to do is "suppress the rich" and we can have a free world... Lol... --- Ludicrous..
Musk hopes to manage Twitter as a "digital town square". The phrase evokes a simpler time when an individual could stand on a soap box in the middle of town and advocate for emancipation, or a woman's right to vote, or whatever. I'm not sure that time ever existed, but I do know that anonymity was never possible in the town square. If Musk really wants to push the boundaries of civilized discourse he will demand that every Twitter user is identified by their real name and address. Let the mayhem begin.
Prof (Michigan)
@DJR The only problem with that is that it opens people up to being stalked, harassed, beaten up, etc. I'm not talking about people being at risk because they are engaging in questionable behavior, I'm talking about threats to people just for stating political opinions that are not favorable to Trump or MAGA. Ask any journalist or member of Congress that speaks out against Trump/MAGA. They get death threats. And frankly, it is often worse for women than for men. Again, a lot of women have written about the threats they get from men who call or email or otherwise contact them threatening to rape and kill them. Really sick stuff. And dangerous. I wouldn't care if Twitter wanted to have id from people to prove they are people and not bots. But I think some people would be in danger just for expressing their views that offend the far right and/or conspiracy theorists.
PJ (White Plains, NY)
The issue that has plagued this country in recent memory is that the "Titans" (really?) believe that they ARE the "scrappy rebels," rejecting such outmoded ideas as feeling the slightest degree of sympathy for anyone else and behaving accordingly.
Jim (Chicago)
It will be interesting to contrast companies like Twitter or Meta who actually don't produce anything and whose service just about anybody can replicate will hold on through these times compared to companies like Standard Oil or AT&T who people actually really relied upon. Twitter and Meta are lucky in that they just became the de facto standard.
Akira Olema (San Francisco)
Well, all the great plans have one thing in common: they would have worked perfectly, if only no one else existed.
Boomer Stu (Southeast US)
Twitter is a business, like others, and offers a product. Consumers are free to use the product or not. If a new owner changes the product in ways you don't like, don't use it. Regardless of the outsized influence we allow these social platforms to have, this thing is not any more vital to our existence than Netflix or Oreos.
New Yorker (New York)
@Boomer Stu except that Oreos don’t misinform, disinformation, scare, and enrage people to the point where they commit acts of violence against peoples, governments, and democracy itself.
John Smith (Oklahoma)
This libertarian ideologue bs has been shown to be completely false time and time again. Yes. We are free to put down our phones. Yes. We don’t have to tweet or Snap or post. But we all know that is not the case and further we know that the weak and ill informed minds will read and absorb and believe so your comment is like so many others. False. Dangerously false. It’s assumption in an addictive model is wrong.
John Tollefson (Banks Mtn NC)
You are WRONG about Oreos!
Srini (Texas)
Musk also has a tendency to underestimate the difficulty of the task ahead. Refer to his proclamations about the hyper loop from SF to LA, or his colonization of Mars, or Tesla long haul trucks. A lot of hype and how "he alone" can fix the problem. Twitter is going to be much more complex than Musk is imagining - managing the behavior of millions of people is a Sisyphean task.
John Smith (Oklahoma)
Musk would not exist without HUGE government funding and subsidies. He enamored politicians who fancy themselves ahead of the curve and they opened the coffers. Electric cars. Oh wow. Self driving cars. Oh my I can’t even imagine. Rockets. Wow. Reusable rockets. Why didn’t we think of that? Some solar panels and batteries? Oh my you’ve changed the world. Does Musk have a single patent in his name? Has he ever invented anything? He even has forever sullied the name of our greatest rogue scientist.
AR (Virginia)
@Srini "Refer to his proclamations about the hyper loop from SF to LA" There is good reason to believe that Musk promoted this idea without ever intending to see a "hyperloop" built. The real objective was to derail (pun intended) construction of a high-speed train in California that would have cut into Tesla's auto sales. Another reason Musk & Co. compare so poorly to 19th century Robber Barons. At least the latter wanted to see passenger railways built across America.
Matt (Ohio)
@John Smith : You're just constructing a strawman: no one believes that Musk is a self-made genius who invented all his companies' technologies. Only that he has succeeded where many many others (including billionaires, multinational corporations, and the US government) have failed. PS- Elon Musk has seven patents.
Aran (Baton Rouge)
A good excuse to finally sever my ties, if nothing else. I only really see the lighthearted, comedy side of the app, but when looking through some of the trending tweets after the purchase, I instantly saw the "free speech" people. Not sure what kinds of changes will be rolled out, but now I won't have to.
Roger (Yorba Linda, CA)
@Aran There’s nothing more frightening to a liberal than an opposing point of view.
E (los angeles)
@Roger There's nothing more frightening to a right-wingers than dissent.
See also