As Musk acquisition looms, Twitter seeks his soul

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A poisonous dump. A lifeline. A finger on the heart beat of the world. Twitter is all this and extra for its 229 million customers worldwide, for politicians, journalists, activists, celebrities, weirdos and normies, cat and canine lovers, and nearly anybody with an web connection.

For Elon Musk, the last word troll, and maybe its most prolific consumer whose takeover is more and more shaky, Twitter is a “de facto city sq.” in dire want of libertarian transformation.

Nobody can predict whether or not and the way the takeover will occur. On Friday, Musk introduced that the deal is “pending” and tweeted that he nonetheless has “commitments.” Earlier within the week, the billionaire Tesla CEO stated the platform would reverse President Donald Trump’s ban if its acquisition occurs. That very same day, he additionally stated he helps a brand new European Union regulation aimed toward defending social media customers from dangerous content material. In the meantime, Twitter’s present CEO fired two prime executives on Thursday.

All of this has been a messy few weeks for Twitter. One factor is for positive: The turmoil will proceed inside and outdoors the corporate.

“Twitter has all the time been chaos at its highest ranges. “It is all the time had intrigue and it is all the time had drama,” says Leslie Miley, a former Twitter engineering govt. “This,” she says, “is in Twitter’s DNA.”


Ever because it began out as a chirpy “microblogging service” in 2007 on the South by Southwest Pageant in Austin, Texas, Twitter has all the time gotten above its weight.

At a time when rivals counted their customers within the billions, it remained small, irritating Wall Avenue and making it simple for Musk to stroll in with a proposal his board could not refuse.

However Twitter has an unequalled affect on information, politics, and society, because of its public nature, easy, largely text-based interface, and sense of chronological proximity.

“It is a concise pot of self-expression, simmering with whimsy, narcissism, voyeurism, hucksterism, boredom, and typically helpful info,” Related Press know-how author Michael Liedtke wrote in a narrative concerning the firm in 2009. Twitter had 27 staff on the time, and its hottest consumer was Barack Obama.

At present, the San Francisco icon employs 7,500 individuals. Obama remains to be the preferred account holder, adopted by pop stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry (Musk #6). Twitter’s rise to the mainstream will be recorded by way of world occasions resembling wars, terrorist assaults, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo motion, and different key moments in our shared historical past performed out in actual time on the platform.

“Twitter usually attracts thinkers. People who find themselves serious about issues are usually interested in a text-based platform. And it is stuffed with journalists. So Twitter is each a mirrored image and a driver of what individuals suppose,” says Cathy Reisenwitz, creator, editor and creator of OnlyFans, who has been on Twitter since 2010 and has greater than 18,000 followers.

She finds it nice to find individuals and concepts and to find the writings and ideas of others. That is why he stayed right here all these years regardless of the harassment and loss of life threats he obtained on the platform.

Twitter customers in academia, area of interest areas, these with attention-grabbing pursuits, subcultures small and enormous, grassroots activists, researchers, and lots of others flock to the platform. Why? As a result of at its greatest, it guarantees an open, free trade of details and concepts the place information is shared, mentioned, and questioned.

And these subcultures – they’re superior. Black Twitter, feminist Twitter, baseball Twitter, Japanese cat Twitter, emergency nurse Twitter and many others.

“This has allowed curiosity teams, particularly these organized round social id, to have actually necessary in-group dialogues, whether or not we’re speaking about gender, sexuality, or race,” says Brooke Erin Duffy, professor of social sciences at Cornell College. media.


On the opposite aspect of Twitter’s immediacy, its public, open nature and 280-character (as soon as 140-character) restrict is the right recipe for prime passions, particularly anger.

“Twitter’s anonymity typically empowers individuals to take photos, however it’s right down to some of the efficient methods to attach with individuals with related pursuits,” says Steve Phillips, former normal supervisor of the New York Mets. MLB Community Radio.

However Twitter additionally has an enormous, darkish aspect. That is the Twitter of Nazis, loopy trolls, conspiracy theorists, and nation-states who finance large networks to affect elections.

Jaime Longoria, director of analysis and schooling on the nonprofit Disinfo Protection League, says Musk’s acquisition of Twitter jeopardizes a platform that many consultants imagine is doing a greater job at reining in dangerous content material than its rivals.

“We’re watching and ready,” Longoria says. “Twitter as we all know it might be over.”

In a sequence of tweets in 2018, then-CEO Jack Dorsey stated the corporate was dedicated to “public well being, openness and the kindness of talking publicly, and holding ourselves publicly accountable to progress.”

Managed by the belief and safety workforce, Twitter has labored to enhance issues. It enacted new insurance policies, added tags to misinformation, inspired violence and different dangerous actions, repeatedly violating its anti-hate guidelines. Often, issues started to enhance, a minimum of in america and Western Europe.

Nevertheless, outdoors of Western democracies, not a lot has modified in terms of curbing hate and misinformation.

“There’s a number of hate on Twitter, particularly in direction of minorities. And due to this, there may be all the time a relentless battle to get Twitter to curb hate speech, usually violent hate speech and pretend information,” stated Shoaib Daniyal, affiliate editor of Indian information web site Scroll.

Daniyal says Musk’s absolutism of free speech would not make a lot sense in India as a result of there wasn’t a lot curbing on talking out on the platform initially.

“It is fairly hateful anyway,” he says. “And Twitter hasn’t accomplished a lot about it. So let’s examine the place it goes.” This might occur in nearly any route, given Musk’s risky nature.


Related Press Author David Klepper contributed to this story from Windfall, Rhode Island.

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