Elon Musk’s Twitter Acquisition Can’t Be Saved

There are still many questions and theories about Elon Musk’s intermittent deal to buy Twitter. But there is one thing about Twitter that everyone seems to agree on. Twitter is one of the most important social networks in the world, no matter who owns it. I put it in April of last year.

Are you sure about that?

Yes, Twitter can be informative, funny, and irritating. For some users (and I am one of them), it’s engaging, addictive, and regularly useful. Also, depending on how you look at politics, you may mistakenly think that politics represents true public opinion.

But that’s different from being important. And the concern for Musk, and anyone who owns Twitter in the near future, is that whatever importance Twitter holds, the chances of it declining forever are very real.

Maybe that’s why he came up with the idea to turn Twitter into something completely different. Tweet Tuesday evening. (At this point, you can be forgiven for not paying too much attention to his Musk tweets on Twitter etc.)

in the meantime. Here’s a thought experiment: what would happen if Twitter went offline tomorrow? For starters, many of us are regaining precious time. Even more seriously, some people lose an easy way to communicate their thoughts to the world, and more people lose a real-time window into the world.

But the reality is that most people don’t spend time on Twitter in the first place. In 2014 he said 23% of his teens now use Twitter, down from 33% now. Pew:

Pew Research Center

Even considering users of all ages, Twitter is not as popular as other social networks. Admittedly, 238 million monthly users is much smaller than the obviously dubious Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but much smaller than the likes of Snapchat. He has 347 million daily users and WeChat is a Chinese app boasting 1.2 billion active his users. And despite efforts to go beyond its SMS-based origins (see the Instagram acquisition that never happened and the short foresight of the Vine acquisition), Twitter has become one of the world’s most embracing images and videos. Remains firmly text-based when

And at the other end of the spectrum, some people, exhausted by Twitter’s chaos and combativeness, are immersed in quieter, more controlled conversations. The kind you can find in text messaging threads, or moderated conversations on Reddit or Discord.

Perhaps the most real-life example of the importance of Twitter comes from writer Ryan Broderick. He calls his Twitter the “major website where all cultures travel” in America. But that’s not because everyone in America uses Twitter — Broderick argues that Twitter is simply the top layer of social media. The main reason is that he is very searchable (for now) especially compared to TikTok. It’s not a hangout, it’s a guide to the rest of the internet.

But it’s easy to see why some Twitter users, especially political ones like the many bold names in Mask’s text, take Twitter so seriously.

Part of that stems from the early days when the company was frequently described as a democratizing tool. Twitter was where a Pakistani engineer could inadvertently live-tweet the top-secret raid that killed Osama bin Laden. It was also a place where protesters in Egypt, Iran and Tunisia could organize against repressive regimes.

And many of its spiritual values ​​were cemented during Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency.A man who grew up with television and print newspapers used Twitter to get the “just the right amount of craziness.” I learned that I can get the world’s attention.

But in retrospect, I also understand why these use cases aren’t really scalable. Protesters can still use Twitter to organize, but the repressive regime has demanded her Twitter take down her posts, limit her posts, stop them altogether, and ban Twitter users. can be imprisoned.

Also, I think many of us misunderstand the value of Twitter to Trump. That’s right, he enjoyed the ability to command his cycle of world news with a few keystrokes. But he got that power because he was President of the United States, and the way he got that job was years of playing a successful businessman on TV. doesn’t have access to Twitter at all (although that could definitely change under the mask).

But even if Twitter is as important as some die-hard fans think it is, that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. The digital ecosystem has a lifespan, and it’s perfectly reasonable to think that Twitter’s ecosystem is approaching.

The Atlantic’s Charlie Worzel said this week, “When I talk to people who look at the media ecology more broadly, it’s clear that Twitter’s importance in this space has an end date.” Media recodingTwitter’s usefulness as a political tool lasted for a decade, he theorizes, peaking during the Trump presidency. Now it is possible to make way for something new. “You can also imagine other politicians and other people coming up and using different platforms in different ways,” he told me.

It should come as no surprise that the 280 million people who use Twitter daily don’t quit overnight. And as TikTok grows, there will be all sorts of people who will continue to derive value from Twitter even as its political and cultural significance fades.

That includes me, but most of the people I followed in the early days (mainly tech-minded people like venture capitalists) seem to have stopped posting altogether. and, Musk points outcelebrities other than Mask, who have the most followers on Twitter, have largely stopped using it.

It is a very risky proposition for anyone, including Elon Musk, to bet on turning around a declining digital consumer goods company. Once Internet users decide they’ve moved somewhere else, they’ll never come back. References: Myspace, AOL, Yahoo. See also: Mark Zuckerberg’s plans to create a new metaverse business to replace his aging Facebook business.

If you want to interpret this in Musk’s favor, you can argue that he doesn’t want Twitter to turn around, but to turn it into something else entirely: a “super app” that has it all. This is what he tweeted on Tuesday. It is unlikely that it will happen. But it’s more likely to restore Twitter’s importance than many of us imagine.

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