SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A poisonous cesspool. A lifeline. A finger on the world’s pulse. Twitter is all these items and extra to its over 229 million customers all over the world — politicians, journalists, activists, celebrities, weirdos and normies, cat and canine lovers and nearly anybody else with an web connection.
For Elon Musk, its final troll and maybe most prolific consumer whose buyout of the corporate is on more and more shaky floor, Twitter is a “de facto town square” in dire want of a libertarian makeover.
Whether or not and the way the takeover will occur is anybody’s guess. On Friday, Musk introduced that the deal is “on hold,” whereas tweeting that he was nonetheless “committed” to it. Earlier within the week, the billionaire Tesla CEO mentioned he’d reverse the platform’s ban of President Donald Trump if his buy goes by means of. The identical day, he additionally mentioned he supported a brand new European Union regulation geared toward defending social media customers from dangerous content material. Twitter’s present CEO, in the meantime, fired two high managers on Thursday.
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All that mentioned, It’s been a messy few weeks for Twitter. One factor is for certain: the turmoil will proceed, inside and out of doors of the corporate.
“Twitter at its highest levels has always been chaos. It has always had intrigue and it has always had drama,” says Leslie Miley, a former Twitter engineering supervisor. “This,” he says, “is in Twitter’s DNA.”
`WHAT PEOPLE ARE THINKING ABOUT’
From its 2007 begin as a scrappy “microblogging service” on the South by Southwest Competition in Austin, Texas, Twitter has at all times punched above its weight.
At a time when its rivals rely their customers by the billions, it has stayed small, irritating Wall Avenue and making it simpler for Musk to swoop in with a proposal its board couldn’t refuse.
However Twitter additionally wields unmatched affect on information, politics and society due to its public nature, its easy, largely text-based interface and its sense of chronological immediacy.
“It’s a potluck of pithy self-expression simmering with whimsy, narcissism, voyeurism, hucksterism, tedium and sometimes useful information,” Associated Press expertise author Michael Liedtke wrote in a 2009 story concerning the firm. Twitter had 27 workers on the time, and its hottest consumer was Barack Obama.
At present, the San Francisco icon employs 7,500 individuals. Obama continues to be its hottest account holder, adopted by pop stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry (Musk is No. 6). Twitter’s rise to the mainstream might be chronicled by means of world occasions, as wars, terror assaults, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo motion and different pivotal moments in our collective historical past performed out in actual time on the platform.
“Twitter often attracts thinkers. People who are thinking about things tend to be attracted to a text-based platform. And it’s full of journalists. So Twitter is both a reflection of and a driver of what people are thinking about,” says author, editor and OnlyFans creator Cathy Reisenwitz, who’s been on Twitter since 2010 and has over 18,000 followers.
She finds it nice for locating individuals and concepts and having others uncover her writing and ideas. That is why she’s stayed all these years, regardless of harassment and demise threats she’s acquired on the platform.
Twitter customers in academia, in area of interest fields, these with quirky pursuits, subcultures small and large, grassroots activists, researchers and a number of others flock to the platform. Why? As a result of at its greatest, it guarantees an open, free change of information and concepts, the place data is shared, debated and questioned.
And people subcultures — they’re formidable. There’s Black Twitter, feminist Twitter, baseball Twitter, Japanese cat Twitter, ER nurse Twitter and so forth.
“It’s enabled interest groups, especially those that are organized around social identity, whether we’re talking about gender or sexuality or race, to have really important in-group dialogues,” says Brooke Erin Duffy, a professor at Cornell College who research social media.
On the flip facet of Twitter’s immediacy, public, open nature and 280-character (as soon as 140-character) restrict is an ideal recipe for passions to run excessive — particularly anger.
“The anonymity of Twitter empowers people to take shots sometimes, but it is till one of the most effective ways to communicate with people with similar interests,” says Steve Phillips, a former normal supervisor of the New York Mets who now hosts a present on MLB Community Radio.
However there’s additionally the huge, darkish a part of Twitter. That is the Twitter of Nazis, of demented trolls, of conspiracy theorists and of nation states funding huge networks to affect elections.
Jaime Longoria, supervisor of analysis and coaching for the nonprofit Disinfo Protection League, says Musk’s buy of Twitter jeopardizes a platform that many specialists consider has carried out a greater job of reining in dangerous content material than its opponents.
“We’re watching and waiting,” Longoria says. “The Twitter we know may be over.”
In a series of tweets in 2018, then-CEO Jack Dorsey said the company was committed to “collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.”
Twitter, led by its trust and safety team, has worked to improve things. It enacted new policies, added labels to false information, kicked off repeated violators of its rules against hate, inciting violence and other harmful activities. In fits and starts, things have started to improve, at least in the United States and Western Europe.
Outside Western democracies, though, not much has changed when it comes to clamping down on hate and misinformation.
“There’s a lot of hate on Twitter, especially directed at minorities. And so there’s always a constant battle to get Twitter to clamp down on hate speech, very often violent hate speech and fake news,” says Shoaib Daniyal, associate editor with the Indian news website Scroll.
Musk’s free speech absolutism, Daniyal says, doesn’t make much sense in India because there have not been many curbs on speech on the platform to begin with.
“It’s fairly filled with hate anyway,” he says. “And Twitter hasn’t done a lot about it. So let’s see where it goes.” Which, given Musk’s mercurial nature, could be almost any direction at all.
Associated Press Writer David Klepper contributed to this story from Providence, Rhode Island.
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