Musk’s Twitter takeover isn’t going the way you think

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Elon Musk making a strange face

Judging by the stans that cluster in his replies, Elon Musk’s $44 billion buyout of Twitter was a scene out of a Marvel movie. Never ideas Iron Man; they posted pictures of Musk as Captain America. After this hero fired 4 people, moreover they gleefully posted pictures of Musk as Thanos – possibly forgetting that Thanos prompted untold hurt and was in the finish defeated as quickly as the planet’s strongest defenders banded collectively in the direction of him.

“The bird is freed,” Musk tweeted. It was Orwellian language from any person who merely took a public agency and stuffed it into a private cage. The hen should not be free; the hen is shackled to a consortium that options Musk, banks, fellow billionaires, and assorted Saudi patrons. Whatever happens to the hen subsequent, whether or not or not it lives or dies, is far much less in Musk’s courtroom than anyone thinks.

Still, the hen stuff sounded superheroic to the stans, lots of whom have been agitating for the “freedom” of banned accounts, like a certain ex-president who used Twitter to help incite a coup. Musk had said in May that he’d restore Trump’s account. 

Musk, as we’re all starting to be taught by now, says an entire lot of points to a lot of individuals. 

Soon enough, Musk’s tweets started to sound a lot much less Avengers, further The Hangover. The supposed troll savior launched a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints” may very well be usual earlier to any “major content decisions or account reinstatements”: So lots for anyone anticipating a Trump reinstatement sooner than the midterms. He made obscure “I’ll be digging into it” ensures on that perennially obscure grievance, “shadowbanning,” to a Trump-supporting account named Catturd, as if he have been a bored buyer assist rep and by no means the billionaire proprietor.  

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Musk is all carnival barker, no chew

And as for all these supposed firings? The 75 percent of the company that Musk had talked tough about removing? Beyond the fast elimination of CEO Parag Agrawal and three totally different executives, no totally different oustings have been launched. Bloomberg and CNBC have been taken in by a couple of pranksters claiming to be just-fired data engineers exterior Twitter HQ, though. (Musk, a teenage boy at coronary coronary heart, later saluted the prankster who gave his title as “Ligma.”) 

Guess we’ll wait to see if Mr. “Let the Good Times Roll” actually targets to make it rain pink slips at the holidays. But a minimal of for now, evidently Musk – a seasoned showman since his early Twitter days – is all carnival barker, no chew. 

Because that is the issue: No matter what happens now, Musk is going to run headlong into actuality, regulators, and straightforward enterprise sense. He overpaid for Twitter, couldn’t uncover a way to once more out of the deal, and now he ought to make it change into worthwhile or menace the wrath of his fellow patrons. Social media consultants cannot foretell what’s going to happen subsequent, nonetheless they do seem to think about Musk has bitten off a further sophisticated political draw back than he can chew.

Running a worldwide content material materials agency with no prior experience is troublesome — significantly when patrons are respiratory down your neck and complex authorities have an effect on operations are all over the place. It means not spooking advertisers (who Musk preemptively courted by promising “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape.” Ya think?) It means not annoying the majority of shoppers who merely want the Nazis to be banned and hold banned, some of whom are threatening to make the platform as worthless as Tumblr after Yahoo bought it. And it means not courting a revolt by the employees who actually run the shiny gear you merely bought. 

Oh yeah, and it means participating in good with the European Union. With 450 million people, the EU has further potential Twitter clients (and Tesla patrons!) than the United States, and it has lots stricter authorized tips safeguarding net clients’ rights. 

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Those “accept cookies” pop-ups you keep getting, which (in concept) cut back down on the number of firms monitoring you? Largely the doing of the EU regulation commonly known as GDPR. Now proper right here comes the Digital Services Act, which merely acquired final approval from the EU Parliament and Council. The DSA items necessities for content material materials moderation, targets to fight disinformation, and was praised by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen as “the gold standard” for sustaining social media giants in check with minimal regulation. 

European Commissioner Thierry Breton reminded Musk of his DSA obligations immediately after the Twitter sale went via – “the bird will fly by our rules” – and Musk had no response. Not even his conventional bomb-throwing “LOL” emoji. How could he? He’s in a video with Breton saying their joint assist for the DSA once more in May. 

And what’s Musk going to do if he’ll get on the unsuitable side of European regulation? Pull every Twitter office, every Twitter server, out of an entire continent that moreover buys his overpriced electrical cars? Seasoned Euro watchers are already preparing the popcorn.

To recap, then: a billionaire with a habits of founding (or pretending to found) new firms obtained hooked on Twitter. He grew to change into so intoxicated by the validation, he bought the platform at massive worth. He had a simplistic libertarian view of free speech and a blind spot for hate speech (and the authorized tips in the direction of it). He knowledgeable associates he was going to fire a whole bunch of employees; he knowledgeable bankers he was going to hire a whole bunch of employees to create further value. 

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He walked into the workplaces, made a dad joke, hung spherical chatting, fired 4 giant names to appease his horde. Then as actuality set in and he was reminded that authorized tips and legal guidelines exist, he decided to punt the content material materials moderation question to a committee – merely as Zuckerberg found himself doing with the Oversight Board, which itself punted on the big Trump ban question

Turns out working a social media agency isn’t as easy as a result of it appeared sooner than the takeover. Musk would possibly shortly get bored collectively along with his subtle new toy, cautious of turning off too many consumers and advertisers, and decide to delegate most of the giant picks to a workforce that retains Twitter chugging alongside nearly as is. 

In which case, there is not going to be enough popcorn in the world for the disappointment of those stans. Sooner or later, they may perceive they weren’t caping for a Marvel superhero, nonetheless a bored billionaire who not at all truly cared for them in the first place.    

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