Elon Musk may not be able to save Twitter

I am concerned that Musk will ruin the thing he claims to love.

Twitter is now formally owned by Elon Musk, the reigning master of mysterious tweets. If news of Parag Agrawal's dismissal is accurate, he may also take over as the company's CEO. Your reaction to this will depend on whether you are in a state of ferocious joy or utter horror. The latter is what I'm inclined to choose.

Apart from turning the 16-year-old platform into a "shared digital town square" and preventing it from becoming "a free-for-all hellscape," nobody, including Musk, exactly understands what he wants to do with it.

Those remarks were made in an open letter to Twitter advertisers, which was understandably shared on Twitter(opens in new tab). Musk made a clear attempt to soothe his partners' anxieties and prevent them from leaving the platform in droves as soon as he assumed control.

In lieu of that, musk has only provided us with a series of cryptic acts and tweets. He tweeted, "Entering Twitter HQ - let it sink in!" as soon as he entered the building carrying a bathroom sink. Was, in my opinion, a clumsy way of indicating that he's contemplating significant improvements, up to and including the sink (perhaps Musk couldn't locate a kitchen sink quickly).



Later, he tweeted with some musical symbols, "let the good times roll" (opens in new tab). On Twitter, I prompted him to define "good times." He didn't answer back.

Musk's overarching objective, "to try to serve mankind," sounds, I think, alright, though a little nebulous. Don't we all want to contribute to mankind in some small way?

If history is any indicator, Twitter is unlikely to fulfill that function. There have been times when it has inspired people and even started large-scale movements like the Arab Spring, but those times are long gone. Musk could do better to concentrate on more manageable objectives like a secure environment, improved tools, and steady development. 

Musk is in charge, but even as he does so, he acknowledges that his ambitious plans could not succeed. Next, what?

By, for example, reopening Twitter to users and voices who serve no purpose other than to do that, Musk stands a very real risk of damaging mankind in his attempt to somehow enhance it.

It is quite concerning that Twitter Policy Head Gadde appears to have been fired since this might have disastrous consequences.

It will backfire spectacularly if, for example, Musk allows former US President Donald Trump back into the platform because he thinks Trump was wrongfully banned (he wasn't), even if Trump wasn't.

There is merit in making Twitter accessible to all viewpoints and opinions, of course. That is a noble objective. But inflammatory and dangerous voices that would try to propagate hatred and instigate violence using the still-powerful platform are not allowed there.

It's still unclear if Musk really comprehends it.

Or maybe he does, and maybe his efforts will be concentrated on Twitter's financial stability as he has expressed interest in monetizing more of the platform. Of course, the platform will crash faster than you can start a Twitter argument by maintaining that a tomato is a fruit if he starts demanding that everyone who tweets pay a monthly fee.

Perhaps Musk will succeed in turning Twitter into the Weibo or WeChat of US social media. These websites serve as much more than simply chat rooms and community hubs in China. Musk stated to Twitter staff members earlier this year that he wants the platform to resemble a super-app that integrates social networking, payments, games, ride-hailing, and, I'm sure, much more.

That's a lot of water for Twitter to carry, so I don't anticipate Musk to do it right now. In fact, I might even advise Musk against doing so.

I believe it is fair to say that Twitter cannot thrive in its current form (its growth is slow to static). However, if Musk isn't careful and tries to change what he believes to be an unfair moderation policy by allowing people who deserved to be banned access, he won't have the opportunity to try any of his more ambitious strategies.

We can only hope that he doesn't ruin the thing he claims to love, but I won't hold out much hope.

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