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Musk will never tame Twitter The power he seeks is merely an illusion

The beast can't be tamed (SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images)

The beast can't be tamed (SAMUEL CORUM/AFP via Getty Images)


December 20, 2022   4 mins

Elon Musk and Twitter seem to be circling the drain. When Musk banned any links to Twitter competitors on Sunday, prompting criticism even from former allies and a humiliating climbdown later that day, it appeared as if Musk had fully jumped the shark, transforming from a wily trickster into the desperate corporate Mussolini that his critics have long accused him of being. But Musk’s inability to set forth any credible vision for Twitter doesn’t mark him as some sort of failed evil mastermind. Rather, it reveals something peculiar about the ungovernability of Twitter and of online services in general — and about Musk’s total failure to understand their nature.

First off: it is clearly absurd to claim that Musk is playing some N-dimensional chess game with his antics at Twitter. Musk loves to be bold, and he has been uncommonly lucky, making his fortune from PayPal’s success despite being ousted twice and suffering little from the failures of quixotic efforts like Neuralink and the Boring Company. But Musk’s usual management strategy — creating a crisis and then yelling at people until it is fixed — is uniquely unsuited to Twitter. If there are any lessons to be learned from the platform’s accelerating decline, they are to be found in the failure of this strategy.

This failure is rooted in the paradoxical nature of being a “thought leader” on a public platform. Few people have their every move covered to the extent that Musk does, and it’s tempting to think that he is setting the agenda. Musk surely believes this about himself, at least part of the time. His real skill, however, is not in generating ideas and selling them to the masses — it’s in jumping on already-growing trends and giving them a little (or not-so-little) shove in order to make himself the face of them.

Consider his takeover of Twitter. A badly-run and barely profitable company proved itself incapable of managing the highest-profile public forum in the world, creating chronic dissatisfaction among its users. For Musk, it was fairly easy to leverage his public persona to give a face to that dissatisfaction and to hold out the possibility of a solution. Vague gestures at “free speech” — since revealed to be absolute nonsense — were enough to attract the lumpen Right, even as the progressive Left was already losing its investment in Twitter’s future as online discourse fractured into hermetic subcultures that preferred not to even be aware of one another. And the thin blue-check line of verified users, consisting of many media elites and celebrities, remained sufficiently invested in Twitter to stick around after Musk’s purchase and the imbroglios began.

But as Musk quickly discovered, serving as a figurehead for inchoate popular anger is one thing, and governing a platform is quite another. When Musk banned a number of journalists covering him who had supposedly “doxxed my exact location in real-time”, the hypocrisy over the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” was certainly rich, but equally mystifying was some of those journalists continuing to use the platform after being unbanned, undermining their own outrage. No one came out well in the conflict, and Musk ultimately discovered that he had a lot less power than he thought — and that it wasn’t going to be easy to improve on the performance of Twitter’s inept old management. And his fans, though numerous, weren’t numerous or obedient enough to power his new vision of Twitter, as he learned when he put the matter to a poll.

Musk is, as I have suggested, a trickster, but most tricksters would realise they’re not in the business of administering the world’s largest public forum. Musk’s failure to do so betrays, ultimately, his failure to see that the power he wanted to grab wasn’t actually there. He seized control from Twitter’s board and management by purchasing the company. He seized control from its employees by firing many of them and bullying those who remained. He seized control from the media elite that annoyed him by demeaning them, trying to charge them subscription fees for verification, and banning them. And yet none of those moves actually gave him control of anything. He couldn’t seize Twitter itself, that weird cyborg monster of hundreds of millions of people connected in real time via unpredictable and unreliable algorithms. Running Twitter is not like running Tesla. It is closer to running an economy, where self-organisation is not just one possibility but the only possibility.

Twitter’s old management clearly couldn’t tame that beast. Musk didn’t seem to realise that in arguing against Twitter’s mismanagement, he was undermining his own claim that he could do any better. The chaos, inconsistencies, and poor judgments of Twitter’s old regime, as revealed in the internal Twitter files leaked with Musk’s approval to Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi, are not the nothingburgers that Musk-haters would have them be, but neither do they give any indication that Musk, or anyone else, could do any better. Social networks are fundamentally ungovernable, admitting to only approximate regulation, and as the fastest and most open of the lot, Twitter was the most ungovernable of all. That problem, whether on Twitter or on its successor services, is not going to go away, even if Musk does.

Instead, what we have been witnessing over the past few months is Musk receiving a crash course in the fundamental problem with administering social networks: there is no real power to be held, or at least none that can be exercised in anything resembling a straightforward way. This means that whoever takes the reins, there can be no heroes, only more and less catastrophic failures. As with Twitter itself, the only way to win is not to play.


David Auerbach is an American author and former Microsoft and Google software engineer.

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B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

This: ‘. He seized control from the media elite that annoyed him by demeaning them, trying to charge them subscription fees for verification, and banning them’
I got this far, then wondered how this even made publishing. Its made me angry enough to want to shred the whole lot line for line. But I should be in bed.
The whole article sounds to me like its been written by some bitter Google Microsoft lemon that wishes he was as shit hot as musk.
The media frequently demean people, charge people subscriptions or graft data, and ban people. For fu**s sake they banned the actual elected president of the US!!!
He did not ‘seize control’ he bought it, with money. Legitimate business. Capitalism. That’s how it works, google/ Microsoft obviously don’t teach that.
‘there is no real power to be held’ – no but you can introduce some balance back the other way can’t you? If you run a business you can run it how you like as long as its legal, he can do, what he likes, its his business, good for him. Better than Bill Gates awful bloody input.
This article, makes me want to swear, a lot, struggling with articulate and measured on this, I’m going to bed.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

“This article, makes me want to swear,” – me too but repeat after me “it’s just clickbait”

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

it’s just clickbait, it’s just clickbait, it’s clickbait…..calm….. ###@@**** 🙂

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

it’s just clickbait, it’s just clickbait, it’s clickbait…..calm….. ###@@**** 🙂

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

“This article, makes me want to swear,” – me too but repeat after me “it’s just clickbait”

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

This: ‘. He seized control from the media elite that annoyed him by demeaning them, trying to charge them subscription fees for verification, and banning them’
I got this far, then wondered how this even made publishing. Its made me angry enough to want to shred the whole lot line for line. But I should be in bed.
The whole article sounds to me like its been written by some bitter Google Microsoft lemon that wishes he was as shit hot as musk.
The media frequently demean people, charge people subscriptions or graft data, and ban people. For fu**s sake they banned the actual elected president of the US!!!
He did not ‘seize control’ he bought it, with money. Legitimate business. Capitalism. That’s how it works, google/ Microsoft obviously don’t teach that.
‘there is no real power to be held’ – no but you can introduce some balance back the other way can’t you? If you run a business you can run it how you like as long as its legal, he can do, what he likes, its his business, good for him. Better than Bill Gates awful bloody input.
This article, makes me want to swear, a lot, struggling with articulate and measured on this, I’m going to bed.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Bob Bobbington
Bob Bobbington
1 year ago

Just maybe – and I’m not convinced of this myself but it’s possible – he doesn’t want to control it. Maybe he genuinely recognises the value – amidst the chaos – of open discourse. Maybe, like many others, he sees the fundamental danger of groupthink exerting undue influence, if not control, over such a forum. If he can also make money while fighting some of that growing bias, that could be an appealling prospect for him.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob Bobbington

Amazing how revealing and staggering the revelations are coming from the Twitter files – the facts that were suspected by many of us – and still we have to read the dross dished out in this article.
I think we need a piece from Unherd on what has been revealed quicksmart
..

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob Bobbington

Twitter is not an open and pervasive arena for free speech. It is at best a limited series of echo chambers for reactive comment (sometime witty) from a limited number of unrepresentative people. Properly controlled elections are the closest you can get to the “will of the people”. The problems all started when leaders, governments, institutions and individuals started to treat Twitter as some kind of all knowing god! I have never been on it but I hear what it broadcasts all the time from all other media and in the pronouncements from our leaders. I’d kill it entirely, but another would take its place. Perspective is what you derive from your perceptions. Unfortunately for some, Twitter is all they see.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob Bobbington

Amazing how revealing and staggering the revelations are coming from the Twitter files – the facts that were suspected by many of us – and still we have to read the dross dished out in this article.
I think we need a piece from Unherd on what has been revealed quicksmart
..

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob Bobbington

Twitter is not an open and pervasive arena for free speech. It is at best a limited series of echo chambers for reactive comment (sometime witty) from a limited number of unrepresentative people. Properly controlled elections are the closest you can get to the “will of the people”. The problems all started when leaders, governments, institutions and individuals started to treat Twitter as some kind of all knowing god! I have never been on it but I hear what it broadcasts all the time from all other media and in the pronouncements from our leaders. I’d kill it entirely, but another would take its place. Perspective is what you derive from your perceptions. Unfortunately for some, Twitter is all they see.

Bob Bobbington
Bob Bobbington
1 year ago

Just maybe – and I’m not convinced of this myself but it’s possible – he doesn’t want to control it. Maybe he genuinely recognises the value – amidst the chaos – of open discourse. Maybe, like many others, he sees the fundamental danger of groupthink exerting undue influence, if not control, over such a forum. If he can also make money while fighting some of that growing bias, that could be an appealling prospect for him.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

This article went so wrong from the beginning – the man clearly knows little of Musk. He made his initial money from a start up called Zip2, sold that and started X.Com which became PayPal. I guess in Auerbach’s mind this was stealing ideas? From who exactly. Himself? Maybe this ‘trickster’ also just got ‘lucky’ with SpaceX and Tesla.
I stopped reading along the way – can anyone tell me if the emerald mines in South Africa were mentioned?

Last edited 1 year ago by Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

This article went so wrong from the beginning – the man clearly knows little of Musk. He made his initial money from a start up called Zip2, sold that and started X.Com which became PayPal. I guess in Auerbach’s mind this was stealing ideas? From who exactly. Himself? Maybe this ‘trickster’ also just got ‘lucky’ with SpaceX and Tesla.
I stopped reading along the way – can anyone tell me if the emerald mines in South Africa were mentioned?

Last edited 1 year ago by Lesley van Reenen
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

The opening up of the Twitter files alone has justified his purchase of the platform.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

The opening up of the Twitter files alone has justified his purchase of the platform.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“When Musk banned a number of journalists covering him who had supposedly “doxxed my exact location in real-time”, â€œ
I”m really beginning to get tired of this sort of writing, and it’s happening more and more here on UnHerd. “Supposedly”? Does the writer know or not?

Ian S
Ian S
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

I had the same reaction to this ordure-sodden article. But note how very many mainstream media writers (I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘journalists’) lace their hit-jobs with weird words like ‘supposedly’ and ‘baselessly’ and ‘falsely’ – words that tell one instantly that they have not bothered to research and find the veracity of the claims they are impugning. This UnHerd article ranks as the worst example I have read of the drivel spewed out by lazy and incompetent commentators on current affairs.

Ian S
Ian S
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

I had the same reaction to this ordure-sodden article. But note how very many mainstream media writers (I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘journalists’) lace their hit-jobs with weird words like ‘supposedly’ and ‘baselessly’ and ‘falsely’ – words that tell one instantly that they have not bothered to research and find the veracity of the claims they are impugning. This UnHerd article ranks as the worst example I have read of the drivel spewed out by lazy and incompetent commentators on current affairs.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“When Musk banned a number of journalists covering him who had supposedly “doxxed my exact location in real-time”, â€œ
I”m really beginning to get tired of this sort of writing, and it’s happening more and more here on UnHerd. “Supposedly”? Does the writer know or not?

J Hop
J Hop
1 year ago

He’s not trying to tame it. He’s trying to keep it an open forum.

J Hop
J Hop
1 year ago

He’s not trying to tame it. He’s trying to keep it an open forum.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

The very first sentence of this bitter screed dismisses the entire thing. Worst piece I’ve ever read in UnHerd, and, given that they publish Oliver Bateman and Julie Bindel, that’s saying something.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

The very first sentence of this bitter screed dismisses the entire thing. Worst piece I’ve ever read in UnHerd, and, given that they publish Oliver Bateman and Julie Bindel, that’s saying something.

Gil Harris
Gil Harris
1 year ago

Nice left wing hit piece by someone who knows little of who Musk is and how he operates. Twitter used to be dominated by young know-nothing lefty “journalists.” All people or organizations speaking out against the Biden administration’s totalitarianism and wokism were banned. That is no longer the case. The right is back!! Musk orchestrated an easy way for him to step down from his CEO post (which of course he didn’t want permanently) and control the platform anyway.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gil Harris
Gil Harris
Gil Harris
1 year ago

Nice left wing hit piece by someone who knows little of who Musk is and how he operates. Twitter used to be dominated by young know-nothing lefty “journalists.” All people or organizations speaking out against the Biden administration’s totalitarianism and wokism were banned. That is no longer the case. The right is back!! Musk orchestrated an easy way for him to step down from his CEO post (which of course he didn’t want permanently) and control the platform anyway.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gil Harris
Paul Stokes
Paul Stokes
1 year ago

What utter tripe. If I was in his position and a frw lefty “journos” had publicised the locations of me and my family then I’d have been tempted to do more than suspend them for a week- unless it was a different sort of suspension


Paul Stokes
Paul Stokes
1 year ago

What utter tripe. If I was in his position and a frw lefty “journos” had publicised the locations of me and my family then I’d have been tempted to do more than suspend them for a week- unless it was a different sort of suspension


Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

I am tired of hearing negative stories about Musk and his evilness, his incompetence, his naivety, his arrogance, etc. He has only run Twitter for a couple of weeks but has already opened a window on the ugly collusion of Big Tech with the Security Establishment and the interesting fact that the Security Establishment seems really interested in controlling the public debate on everything while also putting a heavy thumb on the election scales. That alone was a serious gift to the free world – even if our corrupt legacy media won’t acknowledge it. As to running a better Twitter – well it is already much better isn’t it ? – unless you swear fealty to the Narrative. Finally – running Twitter isn’t rocket science or developing an electric car. It only becomes really hard when you act like every mean tweeter or conspiracy theorist must be hunted down, rooted out, publicly shamed, and then cancelled forever.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I read this piece was “analysis”, only to find once I’d clicked that it was an anti-Musk opinion piece.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I read this piece was “analysis”, only to find once I’d clicked that it was an anti-Musk opinion piece.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago

I am tired of hearing negative stories about Musk and his evilness, his incompetence, his naivety, his arrogance, etc. He has only run Twitter for a couple of weeks but has already opened a window on the ugly collusion of Big Tech with the Security Establishment and the interesting fact that the Security Establishment seems really interested in controlling the public debate on everything while also putting a heavy thumb on the election scales. That alone was a serious gift to the free world – even if our corrupt legacy media won’t acknowledge it. As to running a better Twitter – well it is already much better isn’t it ? – unless you swear fealty to the Narrative. Finally – running Twitter isn’t rocket science or developing an electric car. It only becomes really hard when you act like every mean tweeter or conspiracy theorist must be hunted down, rooted out, publicly shamed, and then cancelled forever.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago

“When Musk banned a number of journalists covering him who had supposedly “doxxed my exact location in real-time”, the hypocrisy over the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” was certainly rich”
I stopped reading at this classic strawman argument.
The author talks repeatedly about Twitter failing but doesn’t say how. There certainly is a leftist conspiracy by company executives to starve Twitter of ad dollars – but that changes the narrative doesn’t it?
Daily use is up!
https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/7/23445476/elon-musk-twitter-user-growth-all-time-high-advertisers
It’s way too early to clam Musk’s reign a failure – No one should have expected the new open algorithm yet, which is the ultimate solution to content moderation – at least to freedom lovers.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Remembering too that he has slashed the wage bill and also cut costs – like the empty canteen prepped to serve delicious expensive meals to the slackers who weren’t at work.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

Remembering too that he has slashed the wage bill and also cut costs – like the empty canteen prepped to serve delicious expensive meals to the slackers who weren’t at work.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago

“When Musk banned a number of journalists covering him who had supposedly “doxxed my exact location in real-time”, the hypocrisy over the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” was certainly rich”
I stopped reading at this classic strawman argument.
The author talks repeatedly about Twitter failing but doesn’t say how. There certainly is a leftist conspiracy by company executives to starve Twitter of ad dollars – but that changes the narrative doesn’t it?
Daily use is up!
https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/7/23445476/elon-musk-twitter-user-growth-all-time-high-advertisers
It’s way too early to clam Musk’s reign a failure – No one should have expected the new open algorithm yet, which is the ultimate solution to content moderation – at least to freedom lovers.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

The disclosure that Elon Musk’s popularity poll was aimed at identifying bots strikes me as a masterstroke.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

The disclosure that Elon Musk’s popularity poll was aimed at identifying bots strikes me as a masterstroke.

Krimshaw
Krimshaw
1 year ago

So fars Elon has realesed proof of fbi working with the heads and employees of twitter to silence any one that spoke up about them, dnc and biden. Theres talk of CIA killing kennedy via a tucker carlson video, congress is lost gentlemen, owned either by bribe or coerced by a past sin to do the bidding of foreign powers. The kind of government corruption they has been established is vast and much further reaching then any one suspected, and for a much longer time the thought…

Krimshaw
Krimshaw
1 year ago

So fars Elon has realesed proof of fbi working with the heads and employees of twitter to silence any one that spoke up about them, dnc and biden. Theres talk of CIA killing kennedy via a tucker carlson video, congress is lost gentlemen, owned either by bribe or coerced by a past sin to do the bidding of foreign powers. The kind of government corruption they has been established is vast and much further reaching then any one suspected, and for a much longer time the thought…

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 year ago

Impulsiveness is built into Twitter. It is not a forum that can be used to think issues through by debating them. It will survive in a world where enough individuals are happy enough to have opinions just thrown at them, to agree or disagree. I don’t see how it can help individuals explore issues and draw on wider experiences to make them coherent. As complexity increases in the world the chances of a single individual making a positive difference decreases and goes to zero if they are impulsive.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
1 year ago

Impulsiveness is built into Twitter. It is not a forum that can be used to think issues through by debating them. It will survive in a world where enough individuals are happy enough to have opinions just thrown at them, to agree or disagree. I don’t see how it can help individuals explore issues and draw on wider experiences to make them coherent. As complexity increases in the world the chances of a single individual making a positive difference decreases and goes to zero if they are impulsive.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

The best tech-age joke yet.
Furious, embittered rants from Tesla driving West-coast virtue signallers, as Elon Musk buys their favourite propaganda site, using their own Tesla-generated money.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

The best tech-age joke yet.
Furious, embittered rants from Tesla driving West-coast virtue signallers, as Elon Musk buys their favourite propaganda site, using their own Tesla-generated money.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Leigh A
Leigh A
1 year ago

As with Twitter itself, the only way to win is not to play

Or shut the cesspit down. Voluntarily or through incompetence, I’m not fussed, but he’d be doing the world a favour by eliminating the platform

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Leigh A

The ‘cesspit’ will continue – all driven by the narrative of the hard left. How is that doing the world a favour?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Leigh A

The ‘cesspit’ will continue – all driven by the narrative of the hard left. How is that doing the world a favour?

Leigh A
Leigh A
1 year ago

As with Twitter itself, the only way to win is not to play

Or shut the cesspit down. Voluntarily or through incompetence, I’m not fussed, but he’d be doing the world a favour by eliminating the platform

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

Musk is an evil genius and must be destroyed lest he consume the world.
Musk cannot possibly succeed because he’s wrong about everything.
Same leftists (Also the same leftists who said the same thing about Trump.)

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 year ago

Musk is an evil genius and must be destroyed lest he consume the world.
Musk cannot possibly succeed because he’s wrong about everything.
Same leftists (Also the same leftists who said the same thing about Trump.)

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

This article is just terrible. Problem with Twitter was censorship of views which were not woke left.
It has nothing to do with technology architecture.
All the shadow bans, secret cancellations etc add complexity.
If i created computer network where traffic from certain servers is blackholed or traffic shaped to slow it down, would it be acceptable?
That is what Twitter was effectively doing while denying it was happening.
Some of the people on the eoke left are ok with banning Trump but happy with Taliban on Twitter.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago

This article is just terrible. Problem with Twitter was censorship of views which were not woke left.
It has nothing to do with technology architecture.
All the shadow bans, secret cancellations etc add complexity.
If i created computer network where traffic from certain servers is blackholed or traffic shaped to slow it down, would it be acceptable?
That is what Twitter was effectively doing while denying it was happening.
Some of the people on the eoke left are ok with banning Trump but happy with Taliban on Twitter.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Musk is an engineer and not a Social media or advertising expert, so perhaps predictable he’d have initial problems? Remains to be seen if he can use AI power to drive real profit at Twitter, and whether he can absorb the contagion hit to his other companies in the meantime. But tough call to bet against him.
However isn’t the much more important issue the subject Elon and Twitter were arguing about before his purchase completed – the use of Bots to spread misinformation.
Twitter itself estimated Russia/FSB running c 3800 accts and 10 million bot generated tweets. The creation of malicious bots to spread misinformation and sway public opinion we know is a virus that needs a vaccine quickly. What is he doing about this? It’s fine to allow free speech on Twitter (anything but incitement to violence in my view) but the use of Bots to spread misinformation does not fall into that category IMO. Twitter estimated 5% of tweets were Bots thus c16million. Almost certainly an underestimate. What if it’s 20% which it could well be? 50m tweets per day from Bots looking to mislead people.
Elon’s potentially not lily-white here. According to the Washington Post Twitter bots have been deployed to create favourable opinions about Tesla and boost its shares whenever the electric-car maker runs into bad publicity.
If one malicious actor controls 30,000 bots the multiplier effect can convince people to say, “Oh, look, everyone is saying the same thing, so it must be true”.
I’ve little faith to date that Elon is tackling the most important issue despite his pre-purchase rhetoric.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I wouldn’t believe anything out of WaPo who is shedding plenty jobs at the moment – they are losing their reach. And not to forget, the home of one of their foremost ‘tech journalists’ Taylor Lorenz who doxxes people and speaks like a 16 year old teenager on TikTok. Musk suspended her for 24 hours to give her a taste of what it feels like and oh, the fury from the corporate media who have been happy to have people banned and suspended for ‘life’ – until Musk that is.
As for the bots – it is one of his stated missions that he is after bots – he has repeated this time and again. How much time do you give him – j watson – 2 months to sort out Twitter problems – is that fair? I do wonder how many bots are involved in polls and I’m sure they are trying to check out right now how many bots were involved in this oh so tantalizing poll/aka bot magnet.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

I certainly don’t think everything WP publishes is ‘gospel’. But Elon not denied Tesla used Bots as far as I know.
That aside it’s at best unedifying if Elon gets into personally banning people who’ve upset him, even if temporary and just to act as a warning. Where does that start and end?
On final point – yep agree perhaps a bit unfair to imply he can fix this really fundamental issue within weeks. But point is it looks like he’s getting distracted and usually he’s laser-focused. The real test will be on how he follows through on this. Whether malign Bots played a role in his recent Poll is for him to prove and then indicate what he’s going to do about it. He can’t contend that wasn’t a risk.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

He banned her for doxxing
 her favourite pastime. Against TOS for Twitter
.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Taylor Lorenz might be a POS, but you can’t make a rational argument that she should be suspended for past doxxing incidents. Lorenz will do something awful and be suspended legitimately. But at least wait until that happens

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

She started to send uppity, snippy communications to him – boom. Time someone dealt with the likes of her. 24 hours in the sin bin where she belongs. All it in the open. Twitter 2.0.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

She started to send uppity, snippy communications to him – boom. Time someone dealt with the likes of her. 24 hours in the sin bin where she belongs. All it in the open. Twitter 2.0.

Ian S
Ian S
1 year ago

Exactly. Why is it that people can’t get that fact into their brains?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Taylor Lorenz might be a POS, but you can’t make a rational argument that she should be suspended for past doxxing incidents. Lorenz will do something awful and be suspended legitimately. But at least wait until that happens

Ian S
Ian S
1 year ago

Exactly. Why is it that people can’t get that fact into their brains?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

He banned her for doxxing
 her favourite pastime. Against TOS for Twitter
.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

I certainly don’t think everything WP publishes is ‘gospel’. But Elon not denied Tesla used Bots as far as I know.
That aside it’s at best unedifying if Elon gets into personally banning people who’ve upset him, even if temporary and just to act as a warning. Where does that start and end?
On final point – yep agree perhaps a bit unfair to imply he can fix this really fundamental issue within weeks. But point is it looks like he’s getting distracted and usually he’s laser-focused. The real test will be on how he follows through on this. Whether malign Bots played a role in his recent Poll is for him to prove and then indicate what he’s going to do about it. He can’t contend that wasn’t a risk.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Never believe anything in the Washington Post or the NYTimes. They are left-wing organs of agit-prop. Pravda in the Soviet period would have swooned from envy.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I wouldn’t believe anything out of WaPo who is shedding plenty jobs at the moment – they are losing their reach. And not to forget, the home of one of their foremost ‘tech journalists’ Taylor Lorenz who doxxes people and speaks like a 16 year old teenager on TikTok. Musk suspended her for 24 hours to give her a taste of what it feels like and oh, the fury from the corporate media who have been happy to have people banned and suspended for ‘life’ – until Musk that is.
As for the bots – it is one of his stated missions that he is after bots – he has repeated this time and again. How much time do you give him – j watson – 2 months to sort out Twitter problems – is that fair? I do wonder how many bots are involved in polls and I’m sure they are trying to check out right now how many bots were involved in this oh so tantalizing poll/aka bot magnet.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Never believe anything in the Washington Post or the NYTimes. They are left-wing organs of agit-prop. Pravda in the Soviet period would have swooned from envy.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Musk is an engineer and not a Social media or advertising expert, so perhaps predictable he’d have initial problems? Remains to be seen if he can use AI power to drive real profit at Twitter, and whether he can absorb the contagion hit to his other companies in the meantime. But tough call to bet against him.
However isn’t the much more important issue the subject Elon and Twitter were arguing about before his purchase completed – the use of Bots to spread misinformation.
Twitter itself estimated Russia/FSB running c 3800 accts and 10 million bot generated tweets. The creation of malicious bots to spread misinformation and sway public opinion we know is a virus that needs a vaccine quickly. What is he doing about this? It’s fine to allow free speech on Twitter (anything but incitement to violence in my view) but the use of Bots to spread misinformation does not fall into that category IMO. Twitter estimated 5% of tweets were Bots thus c16million. Almost certainly an underestimate. What if it’s 20% which it could well be? 50m tweets per day from Bots looking to mislead people.
Elon’s potentially not lily-white here. According to the Washington Post Twitter bots have been deployed to create favourable opinions about Tesla and boost its shares whenever the electric-car maker runs into bad publicity.
If one malicious actor controls 30,000 bots the multiplier effect can convince people to say, “Oh, look, everyone is saying the same thing, so it must be true”.
I’ve little faith to date that Elon is tackling the most important issue despite his pre-purchase rhetoric.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Philip Anderson
Philip Anderson
1 year ago

I think you’ve correctly identified why Elon Musk isn’t the person to fix Twitter, but in fact, there is huge power to be held – the owner gets to define the underlying platform information architecture which controls and shapes literally every interaction on the site. It decides what (and who) people see and don’t see, it decides how they can and can’t respond to that.
I do think we should be taking stock of the last 20 years of social media and re-thinking social media information architecture from the ground up, with an awareness of the issues that we’ve learned about since social media appeared.
A key issue is how to provide a healthy and constructive space for large numbers of highly differentiated and fundamentally incompatible perspectives. The “free speech” debate is an example of this, some people value free speech over sensitivity to people’s feelings and other people value sensitivity over the right to say what you want. These different groups of people have conflicting values and will never agree on what the correct moderation policy is.
The current Twitter model (of effectively just throwing diverse and incompatible perspectives in the same room together) doesn’t work too well and it really should be obvious why. So what alternatives can we try that might address the perspective incompatibility problem?

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Anderson
Philip Anderson
Philip Anderson
1 year ago

I think you’ve correctly identified why Elon Musk isn’t the person to fix Twitter, but in fact, there is huge power to be held – the owner gets to define the underlying platform information architecture which controls and shapes literally every interaction on the site. It decides what (and who) people see and don’t see, it decides how they can and can’t respond to that.
I do think we should be taking stock of the last 20 years of social media and re-thinking social media information architecture from the ground up, with an awareness of the issues that we’ve learned about since social media appeared.
A key issue is how to provide a healthy and constructive space for large numbers of highly differentiated and fundamentally incompatible perspectives. The “free speech” debate is an example of this, some people value free speech over sensitivity to people’s feelings and other people value sensitivity over the right to say what you want. These different groups of people have conflicting values and will never agree on what the correct moderation policy is.
The current Twitter model (of effectively just throwing diverse and incompatible perspectives in the same room together) doesn’t work too well and it really should be obvious why. So what alternatives can we try that might address the perspective incompatibility problem?

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Anderson
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I think the author goes a little of the rails here, but he does make some interesting points.

There’s this myth about Musk being some super-human entrepreneurial genius. But few people know Tesla was built on the back of carbon credits. The business is on pace to earn $2 billion this year selling carbon credits. WTF.

Up until two years ago, Tesla lost buckets of money actually selling cars. When it finally began turning a profit, it was because of carbon credit sales.

To be fair, however, Tesla now earns a profit selling cars. Carbon credits are a huge boost to the bottom line, but the business would still be profitable without them.

PayPal was a smashing success, but he had A LOT of help with some remarkable investors who also worked on the business. This doesn’t diminish his accomplishment though.

Musk is clearly not suitable to run Twitter IMO. His leadership has been erratic. I believe he bought the business for truly egalitarian reasons – he genuinely thought Twitter was a threat to democracy.

Now it’s up to someone else to take over and realize his vision of a free speech platform.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You need to bone up – you get part of it right – try watching something off corporate media, read some of the books etc. Many people know he got money off carbon credits – he took on a virtually nothing car manufacturing company and built it up using the gaps he could as it nearly went to the wall. He took a loan from government for Tesla too and repaid it with interest.
But this is not his only achievement…. so actually he is a super-human entrepreneurial genius – he is also a person who can sniff an opportunity – so he is a blend of business opportunist, original thinker, disruptor, genius of many generations, has balls of steel who will bet his last dollar (witness what he did with his money and SpaceX) and and.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

What did I get wrong? I gave him credit for PayPal. Musk is an exceptional entrepreneur, but he’s one of many.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

He is head and shoulders above the rest. And singularly different.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Really? Sounds like fandom to me.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Bitchy.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Bitchy.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

Really? Sounds like fandom to me.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

‘What did I get wrong?’
For me this part: ‘There’s this myth about Musk being some super-human entrepreneurial genius. But few people know Tesla was built on the back of carbon credits. The business is on pace to earn $2 billion this year selling carbon credits. WTF.
Up until two years ago, Tesla lost buckets of money actually selling cars. When it finally began turning a profit, it was because of carbon credit sales.
To be fair, however, Tesla now earns a profit selling cars’

Its not unusual for a new business to turn over a loss to start off with. In this case you have to invest enormous sums of money upfront to get the cars manufactured and to market. So there is your loss making to start with. Its then a hard road to start turning a profit, not a quick job, most new businesses take a few years to reach a turnover that is steady and profitable. If he made money from carbon credits, I can guarantee you every other big business that can is doing the same. The eV market was a new one to break too, if tesla is now making a good profit selling the cars – that tells me musk must have played it right.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

He is head and shoulders above the rest. And singularly different.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

‘What did I get wrong?’
For me this part: ‘There’s this myth about Musk being some super-human entrepreneurial genius. But few people know Tesla was built on the back of carbon credits. The business is on pace to earn $2 billion this year selling carbon credits. WTF.
Up until two years ago, Tesla lost buckets of money actually selling cars. When it finally began turning a profit, it was because of carbon credit sales.
To be fair, however, Tesla now earns a profit selling cars’

Its not unusual for a new business to turn over a loss to start off with. In this case you have to invest enormous sums of money upfront to get the cars manufactured and to market. So there is your loss making to start with. Its then a hard road to start turning a profit, not a quick job, most new businesses take a few years to reach a turnover that is steady and profitable. If he made money from carbon credits, I can guarantee you every other big business that can is doing the same. The eV market was a new one to break too, if tesla is now making a good profit selling the cars – that tells me musk must have played it right.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

What did I get wrong? I gave him credit for PayPal. Musk is an exceptional entrepreneur, but he’s one of many.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You need to bone up – you get part of it right – try watching something off corporate media, read some of the books etc. Many people know he got money off carbon credits – he took on a virtually nothing car manufacturing company and built it up using the gaps he could as it nearly went to the wall. He took a loan from government for Tesla too and repaid it with interest.
But this is not his only achievement…. so actually he is a super-human entrepreneurial genius – he is also a person who can sniff an opportunity – so he is a blend of business opportunist, original thinker, disruptor, genius of many generations, has balls of steel who will bet his last dollar (witness what he did with his money and SpaceX) and and.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I think the author goes a little of the rails here, but he does make some interesting points.

There’s this myth about Musk being some super-human entrepreneurial genius. But few people know Tesla was built on the back of carbon credits. The business is on pace to earn $2 billion this year selling carbon credits. WTF.

Up until two years ago, Tesla lost buckets of money actually selling cars. When it finally began turning a profit, it was because of carbon credit sales.

To be fair, however, Tesla now earns a profit selling cars. Carbon credits are a huge boost to the bottom line, but the business would still be profitable without them.

PayPal was a smashing success, but he had A LOT of help with some remarkable investors who also worked on the business. This doesn’t diminish his accomplishment though.

Musk is clearly not suitable to run Twitter IMO. His leadership has been erratic. I believe he bought the business for truly egalitarian reasons – he genuinely thought Twitter was a threat to democracy.

Now it’s up to someone else to take over and realize his vision of a free speech platform.

Ess Arr
Ess Arr
1 year ago

What we are witnessing is the public nervous breakdown of a man who paid half his fortune for something. Even if his eventual loss is a fraction of $44 billion, it’s still too much. He was “owned” by the Twitter management who forced him to buy the company. Vijaya Gadde whom he has trolled and denigrated, is a super sharp lawyer who didn’t let him off the hook.

Ess Arr
Ess Arr
1 year ago

What we are witnessing is the public nervous breakdown of a man who paid half his fortune for something. Even if his eventual loss is a fraction of $44 billion, it’s still too much. He was “owned” by the Twitter management who forced him to buy the company. Vijaya Gadde whom he has trolled and denigrated, is a super sharp lawyer who didn’t let him off the hook.