This is the fourth week Elon Musk’s picture has appeared at this point in the newsletter, and it won’t be the last. Proving he’s a shitposter who also delivers, Musk this week succeeded in his bid to acquire Twitter.
The news has flung Twitter—both the company and the platform—into a state of uncertainty that could last as long as six months while the transaction is completed.
Still, while current and former CEOs Agrawal and Jack Dorsey can expect generous paydays
if the deal goes through, rank-and-file staff were left wondering
what would happen to their place at the company, and emotional
about potential changes. Management temporarily banning most product changes
in a sign of distrust couldn’t have helped.
Meanwhile. some of those same employees have felt the wrath
of Musk’s unofficial army of trolls who hang on his every word. This came as Musk publicly questioned some of Twitter’s past moderation decisions. It prompted former CEO Dick Costolo to tweet “bullying is not leadership
The platform side of Twitter is having just as rocky a time. Musk has said he wants the company’s moderation to be ‘politically neutra
l’, which sounds fair until you realise he’s used right-wing memes
(more than once
) to illustrate his point, suggesting his own idea of neutrality might be a little skewed.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, conservatives were happy with the idea of a more ‘free-speech’ focused Twitter. Seemingly organic
follower count increases for conservatives
and follower losses for liberals followed the announcement of Musk’s deal. It was all enough to prompt Donald Trump to feel the heat and finally post to Truth Social
as he vowed to remain off Twitter even if Musk allowed him back.
But Musk’s understanding of content moderation issues (and how Twitter handles them) have repeatedly seemed simplistic and naïve
. A ‘free-speech’ Twitter could undermine
a lot of the company’s progress on user safety and drive away as many users as it attracts. And advertisers might not be too keen on it
, no matter how much the company reassures
The fact is, we just don’t know
what Musk will really do when he takes control. It might not be quite the total hellscape some predict. He’s called for things like encrypted DMs
—widely requested over the years by the kinds of people fearing his ownership of Twitter—for example.