THE MICRO-BLOGGING, social media platform, Twitter, emerged into the media ecosphere in 2006, almost simultaneously with Facebook (now Meta). The era of pervasive social media, as we now know it, began.
Since then, Twitter has evolved through many changes and difficulties. It has always been much smaller than Facebook but its reach and influence has been globally significant.
The demagogue, Donald Trump, used the platform as his own personal broadcast channel. (He was later banned after the 2020 USA presidential election for contravening Twitter “rules” around disinformation.) It gradually became de rigueur for many politicians, corporations, governments and celebrities to issue statements and media releases on the platform.
More recently, the oligarch, Elon Musk, finally took Twitter private via a 44 billion US dollar purchase after a fraught period of trying to back out of the acquisition and a legal battle with the Twitter board and management.
Almost instantly, Musk started firing Twitter operational staff and key executives in crucial roles including privacy and security. Other top level executives resigned subsequently.
Historically, Musk has said, “I hate advertising” and advocated an absolutist “free speech” ideology. A spooked advertising industry has recoiled from a now chaotic platform with Twitter’s authentication protocols now severely corroded (there has been a sharp uptick in “impersonations” and hate speech on the platform) and a Musk directed US$8.00 monthly charge for a “blue check” (without any identity verification) now in bewildering disarray. Musk has also said he is aiming for at least half of Twitter’s income to flow from subscriptions. It appears non-paying Twitter users will be algorithmically “sidelined”?
Are we witnessing the demise of Twitter? Musk himself has raised the spectre of ‘bankruptcy” as early as 2023. If the platform survives, what form will it take? And for whom? Could it become a right-wing hell-scape?
On this latest #transitzone podcast, Margo Kingston, Tim Dunlop and Peter Clarke, all long term Twitter users, discuss the unfolding plight of Twitter.