The God Emperor of Crypto Twitter has now appointed himself as the God Emperor of Twitter, Period, courtesy of a big bag of cash ($44B, to be exact), an even bigger ego, and, presumably, a much smaller something else. Yes, Elon Musk actually did it, and, barring some Succession-style board room antics, will soon own 100% of his favorite platform. It’s like if the Jared Leto Gucci meme posed a non-negligible threat to democracy.
So will it lead to the birth of web3? The death of civility? A mass exodus of rational users from the platform / an influx of nazi.eths?
When it comes to this particular news story, I’m sure you’re all hot took out by now. Sure, we’re only a day into talking about it. But, like the Oscars Slap before it, the Internet content machine has become so efficient it has lapped itself. Fatigue from the inevitable cycle of viral news story → slew of mainstream thought pieces → contrarian backlash → galaxy brain garbage takes → soul crushing depression now sinks in before the news stories themselves. Nevertheless, we hope you’ve saved room for one more: the unholy union of apolitical apathy, free speech maximalism, and insider knowledge only we can H0R around.
My writing partner el Prof, predictably, was pretty excited about the news on our morning call today. Despite being a bit of a Twitter addict himself, he feels like the platform has been stagnant for a while now, and could use a shake-up, regardless of the source. Never mind that, while perhaps not a full-blown disciple, Elon Musk is his tech billionaire of choice. (He’s the type of guy who has one of those.) And, as most of y’all know by now, his approach to the complex puzzle of upholding the First Amendment without creating a cesspool of trolling and assholery is the same as my approach to my cockroach infestation. In other words, the only way to eliminate the dark is to illuminate it with light.
Which you probably could’ve guessed. Hear one el Prof take and you’ve heard them all. Something about big tech and first party data management and democratized ownership and composability / transparency / accountability / Basquiat. (Love you big bro.) So I’m excited to bring you a somewhat more non-fungible perspective: a bonafide primary source. Yes, I’m lucky enough to have also spoken today with the Twitter employee we blacked out with back in school, who, on the condition of anonymity, gave us the inside scoop.
Our source tells us their fellow Twitterers’ feathers have, predictably, been ruffled. But not so much in regards to, as other outlets have reported, the pending sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuits against their future employer, his perceived mental ineptitude, or even their fear of being laid off. Rather, it’s the prospect of not being laid off that scares them. Although Musk purchased every share with cash in hand, the employees, most of whom hold significant stakes in the company as part of their hiring package, won’t see a cent of it, until they meet their prE-lon vesting schedule… or never, should they leave voluntarily first. In other words, he’s ‘got them on the leash with equity’, postponing what could be a multi-hundred-thousand dollar lump sum for even junior level employees, in order to incentivize them into staying in, potentially, one of his patently toxic work environments.
It’s an obvious strategy, I know, and fairly run-of-the-mill as corporate machinations go. But it shows Musk may be more worried about a mass exodus of employees rather than users. And reasonably so, as much of the workforce is reportedly preparing to jump ship regardless. Which, when you consider the inexplicable hate they’re getting from Musk dick-riders already, yeah, checks out.
Perhaps the richest man on the planet is not as mentally inept as he seems. Indeed, our source admits they are not a ‘power user’ themselves, and that even Twitter at large doesn’t seem to understand its own use case. Who better to lead? ‘At least he uses it.’
As for whether users actually will leave the platform in significant numbers, Musk, my source, el Prof, and even I agree. It’s a hard no. Worldwide, Twitter has nearly 400 million users, meaning, functionally, there is no such thing as a Twitter user base. There are Twitter user bases. Crypto Twitter, Comedy Twitter, Black Twitter, Thot Leader Twitter, you name it — users self-sort into communities comprising mere fragments of the whole.
If Musk loosens content moderation, unbans Trump, or, like, incites his own coup attempt, we’ll surely see an influx of Lil Baby Ape Club hodlers looking to wield their anonymity-empowered ‘free speech’ like toddlers who just learned to potty talk. But even if Faschwave Twitter emerges, will anyone else notice? The soon-to-be-open-sourced algorithm already ensures all online discourse occurs in an insulated echo chamber. Factor in the archive of meaningful interactions many have had on the platform over the past 15 years, the very real impact de-platforming poses to artists and influencers, our collective addiction to doomscrolling, or just plain old brain worms, and I’d argue our own base instincts have failed us once again.
Which you probably could’ve guessed. Hear one Chad take and you’ve heard them all. Something about late-stage capitalism and our inescapably cyclical human nature and everything is everything and fringe psychology / radical acceptance / r/whoosh / Midsommar. Truly, the only thing capable of killing Twitter is time itself. Or a suffocating pile of hot garbage takes. Whichever comes first.