Some comments on these crazy Twitter weeks

Illustration of Manu Cornet, ex-employee of Twitter

My first analysis, after yet another article on Twitter, is this: 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿. More seriously, here are some thoughts on what’s going on. You can react in the comments, it will be a pleasure to read you.

Catastrophic press management

It’s not entirely surprising that Twitter has become (in spite of itself, or not) the talk of the specialized and even general press (almost an article a day in The New York Times). What is (surprising) is that Musk and his PR teams have anticipated it so badly. The (crisis) communication management is flawed. The media coverage is unanimously catastrophic. If there is a hidden agenda in this one, I don’t see it.

I’m thinking back to my crisis communication classes. The Twitter takeover and its aftermath will undoubtedly make a juicy case study for decades to come.

“Poor” Twitter employees

It is never pleasant to lose one’s job, especially in the conditions that the ex-employees of Twitter are in. But, before feeling sorry for them, let’s not forget that these employees are mostly ultra-privileged. In principle, they knew what they were doing when they chose to work at Twitter, and more generally in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. Big salaries, good health insurance, multiple benefits in kind. On the other hand, management in the style of a startup: “work hard, play hard”. Fickle investors. Economic bubble. That’s the game…

Don’t forget one of the adages of the Valley: “there is no failure, only experience and learning”. In short, let’s not feel too sorry for the ex-Tweeps (nickname given to Twitter employees), they will be able to bounce back at another tech giant. Perhaps they will take the opportunity to join a company that is more ethical and respectful of its users?

Shock doctrine ?

If there is a strategy that can make sense of this ubiquitous and still ongoing sequence, it is the famous shock doctrine theorized by Naomi Klein. In a way, Musk is shaking the Twitter tree. He is scaring away the moderates, the progressive activists, as much on the side of employees, users and advertisers. And also those who clung to the network in order not to leave it to the more virulent political camp on the other side.

Finally, maybe Musk wants to turn Twitter into Truth Social, Trump’s social network, which didn’t work because of the network effect. The same network effect that makes it so difficult to adopt Mastodon. So Twitter, a social network that used to bring “everyone together,” while leaning to the right1, would turn into a right-wing network. While Mastodon would remain a left-wing network?

Never overlook human error

There are many clues that Musk set out to buy Twitter on a whim. Like a dare between kids2, he had more money in his piggy bank than others. However, Musk realized in the meantime that he had overvalued Twitter, that the economic situation had largely changed in six months (inflation, tech sector in crisis, advertising model questioned).

Finally, the conclusion of all this is perhaps that there was no plan, and that there still is not. This should show us that it makes no sense that such important public places as Twitter (but also Facebook, and Youtube), can be controlled by single, and by nature, fallible people. To err is human, but in a democratic society, we need checks and balances equal to the powers in question.

Conclusion: come to Mastodon. Give respectful digital alternatives a chance.

Notes de bas de page

  1. Twitter’s internal data shows its algorithm amplifies right-wing political content
  2. Elon Musk’s Texts Shatter the Myth of the Tech Genius

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