I’m sure I don’t have to tell anyone reading this what a shitshow things have been since Elon Musk – or, as I like to call him, Space Putin – took over a couple of weeks ago. It’s been like watching Donald Trump try to run the Presidency: A self-important loudmouth who is either in way over his head, or who’s happily tearing things down for his own inscrutable reasons, or a mix of the two.
Basically: This guy is the brains behind Tesla and SpaceX?
I have no idea whether he’s really been the brains behind Tesla and SpaceX, or if he’s just been claiming credit for the brilliance of others. It’s entirely possible that he used to be a genius – or, at least, the right genius at the right times for those companies – and something’s changed. My guess is that Space Putin is a billionaire who’s been living in a billionaire bubble which has shifted until he’s mostly getting feedback from right wing nut jobs and doesn’t trust anyone else.
My working theory is that Space Putin bid to buy Twitter for the LOLs, didn’t expect that he’d be forced to go through with the contract he signed, is upset that he was forced to go through with it, doesn’t believe that Twitter has any real value and therefore that his purchase is a sunk cost which can’t earn back his investment, and so he’s just taking out his frustrations on the company and its employees, and amusing himself along the way. That might not be what’s happening, but it’s a simple theory that fits the observable facts for those of us on the outside.
There are lots of takes and summaries of what’s been going on at Twitter. Here’s a pretty good one which runs through, well, this morning(ish). At which point Space Putin tweeted:
Shortly thereafter people observed that two-factor authentication, while still active, was no longer sending confirmation codes when people tried to log in. And even more ominously, that tweets from locked accounts (that only their mutual followers should be able to see) were appearing in public searches:
A few days ago I thought it was pretty likely that Twitter would either file for bankruptcy or suffer a catastrophic failure by the end of the calendar year. Given how fast things are moving (and breaking), I think it’s entirely possible that one or both will happen by Thanksgiving.
It’s been a shitshow of epic proportions.
I remember first seeing Twitter back around 2007 (I think at my friend Emma’s annual Boxing Day party) and thinking it was kind of a waste of time. I joined it (my profile says) in June 2008. I didn’t use it a lot the first couple of years, but it grew on me. I’ve made over 37,000 tweets, which works out to about 7 per day. I used to forward all my tweets to Facebook, until Fb dropped support for that integration. Twitter has not been an integral part of my life. I haven’t really met any good friends there, although I’ve made a few, and connected with some people through it who I wouldn’t have otherwise. I use it to discover things like audio dramas, and comic strip artists, and to follow some creators I wouldn’t be able to otherwise, like J. Michael Straczynski.
It’s probably inevitable that almost every social media platform is going to either die or fundamentally transform in some way. Maybe some of the smaller ones, like Dreamwidth, can establish a steady state where they continue on unless something catastrophic and unforeseeable strikes them. But the big commercial ones are motivated – often forced – to keep growing, and they’re always going to hit a wall and have to figure out what’s next once the growth ends. Facebook is struggling with that existential crisis right now. We may be seeing the end of free, ad-supported social media as we know it, and something new will take its place, as it supplanted blogs as the dominant social media, and as blogs supplanted bulletin boards and mailing lists.
Anyway, I continue to write here from time to time. Maybe I’ll write a little more often. (Boy, if I had a dime for every time I said that, I might be able to buy Twitter from Space Putin.)
Meanwhile, other than here you can also catch me on Mastodon, the upcoming not-so-new hotness which many Twitterers are flocking to. I’m @email@example.com, spouting similar crap to what I spew(ed) on Twitter. Maybe I’ll see you there?