Friday a Twitter bell rings – it rings for you
At 5 p.m. Friday, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, famous for his good looks and sunny temper, must strike a $44 billion US deal for Twitter or a Delaware judge will take it very badly. Twitter really wants to be bought, a bad sign in itself. Tragically, Musk is the one who promised to do it.
Many problems await us. The first is that despite his great wealth, Musk did not have enough cash and had to turn to foreign investors like Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, Qatar Holding and Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. world. Their total stake is around US$7 billion, reports the Guardian.
The Biden administration has so far said it has no intention of doing anything through, say, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to block the deal, although those foreign investors do not wish Biden or any American well.
This is also despite Musk recently threatening to terminate his Starlink satellite internet service to Ukraine and posting tweets about the Russian invasion of Ukraine that must have greatly pleased the crazed Putin.
And that’s the thing with this toxic blob called Twitter, basically a global chat room. Whatever the economics of the deal – it’s an exercise in ego and a bad idea for everyone involved – it all comes down to the tweets. Words matter. Sometimes I think they have never mattered so much.
It’s like Twitter ruining the words. Such has been his malignant influence.
If Musk wins Twitter on Friday, he plans to lay off 75% of staff, reducing his 7,500 employees to a core of 2,000.
This would not be possible in a normal business. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey had tried to civilize the place, making efforts, however clumsy and deceptive – he banned President Donald Trump years too late – to shut down evil content and keep the platform less vulnerable, less combustible.
Musk is one of those men who rose to fame in the Trump era, trumpeter of chaos, rule breaker, bully. He’s like Roger Stone or Steve Bannon, braggarts looking for revenge. But Musk isn’t all bawling. There’s Tesla, there’s space rockets, there’s our global cafe.
For reasons more of luck than good stewardship, Twitter is where a lot of blue-checked people with power and influence like to talk. Many more millions take to Twitter to pass the time whistling at each other over the tiniest of minor differences between the staff and the public.
This is where the so-called culture wars have been fueled, with people relentlessly holding back, assuming bad faith in others, and hurling venom at Western conversations.
Once upon a time there was a troll called @sweepyface who tormented the British parents of a little girl who was kidnapped on holiday in Portugal and presumably murdered. @sweepyface’s real name was Brenda Leyland. She had no real motive beyond her own hurt and a desire to hurt the world in return. When she was publicly identified, she committed suicide. But she’s always interested me because Twitter is full of face-swipes.
Like all social media, Twitter wasn’t healthy then, isn’t now, and never will be. But Musk will make it worse in ways that we innocent ignorant people on the site have yet to understand. He is a free speech extremist.
It’s not just that Trump and anti-Semites and white supremacists will be back on Twitter, it’s that you’ll be fish food for people like that and for a company that doesn’t believe anyone is entitled to privacy or limits of expression. It could well happen on Friday.
Some of you have posted 100,000 tweets over the years and still think you’re sane. Delete them. In particular, delete your DMs (direct messages). Be quick.
Come Friday, your life of digital blackmail can be served to Mister Musk on a plate.