Cheers to Musk: Destroying Twitter before it could destroy itself (Editorial)

PAY TO TWEET: Musk has even posited putting the entire app behind a paywall of an unknown amount.

PAY TO TWEET: Musk has even posited putting the entire app behind a paywall of an unknown amount.

Ryleigh Underwood, Perspectives Editor

Twitter, the town square of the world, with over 396.5 million users across the globe, has a new king. Billionaire and local tyrant, Elon Musk bought the app for $44 billion on October 27th after months of waffling, lawsuits, and a near miss of a full-blown trial. 

Since then, the use of the N-word on the app has skyrocketed by 500%, countless anti-Semitic attacks have been published, and anybody can pay for verification for a measly $8 per month!

Musk screwed up. Big time. 

The app holds an addicting interface, like every other social media platform, but Twitter is unique in its constant promise of “breaking news,” which feeds the hunger of people who work in journalism and politics (or those who are just plain nosy). It’s true that historically Twitter has been instrumental in drawing attention to injustices and organizing demonstrations; the most recent example being the murder of George Floyd. 

However, Twitter has proven much better at stoking fires and dividing the public than promoting unity and progress. A major driving factor of the app is negative engagement from “out-group animosity” – negative feelings towards disfavored groups. For instance, Kanye West’s recent infamous anti-semitic tirade where he tweeted, “[…] I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew […]”

This builds on earlier research, and a universal agreement, that on Twitter, misinformation and false news, specifically in regard to politics, spreads farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth. Former U.S. President Trump, who frequently spread falsehoods, even credited Twitter for his win in the 2016 election. 

Furthermore, as if this entire situation wasn’t already a raging dumpster fire, Musk has decided that additional gasoline would fix the problems. Internal research by the company shows that Twitter’s algorithm amplifies right-wing accounts and news sources far more than left-wing ones. Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” is sure to intensify this dynamic even further as he claims that Twitter has a “strong left bias” and moves to undo the permanent bans on figures like convicted defamer Alex Jones, insurrection-stoker Donald Trump, and avid conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Green.

If Musk’s plans to move Twitter in the direction of right-wing sites like Parlor and Truth Social actually push forward, he may attract new users, but is certain to repel others. Once news of his purchase broke, usage of the site slowed, something that even Musk himself pointed out about the app – many of its top accounts don’t post much. Plenty of non-celebrities feel the same way: I can’t count the number of truly interesting people I’ve met that were once active on the site but aren’t anymore.

I believe that Twitter was never designed with the intention to be a wholesome, get-together app. It was created for the sole purpose of being a business (one that never turned a profit) and that’s how it was run before Musk’s takeover. Now, Musk is feeling the heat as he realizes that running Twitter as a solely “free speech machine” is nearly impossible. The hate speech and rhetoric that already spewed from the site before Musk’s purchase was disgusting but will only become more and more amplified if he chooses to go through with all of the features that he promised to his undying fanboys. 

Right-wingers are already killing Twitter, but here’s to hoping that Musk can make it die faster.

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2022-2023 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.