Twitter was locked in a chaotic doom loop. Now it’s on the verge of collapse | Siva Vaidhyanathan

I joined Twitter for the first time during a session at an academic conference, and since then have mostly used it to keep in touch with academics who share my professional interests. But many of those professional contacts feel about Twitter the way I do, and have moved much (though not all) of their activity elsewhere.

The handful of real-world friends I keep in touch with via Twitter — most of whom I haven’t seen in person in over twenty years — are mostly on other platforms too, though not all.

My blog used to post automatically to Twitter, so it was kind of effortless to contribute to the firehose. Now I have to share my blog posts manually, and I usually don’t bother.

It’s amazing to think that so many government agencies and scholars and news organizations and obsessive fan communities contributed so much free content that Twitter felt like a utility. All the work that rank-and-file users did liking, retweeting, and commenting did a fantastic job sorting through the clutter. Of course the bot farms and propagandists and haters tainted the pool, but all in all I found it pretty painless to block the worst and ignore the rest. 

Over the past year, since the former genius assumed complete control of Twitter, he has expressed hostility toward its most loyal and active classes of user, including journalists, political and social activists, and the very businesses Twitter depends on for advertising revenue. By driving away advertisers from an already shaky and poorly run firm, Musk has lurched toward a desperate but ultimately futile move: to coerce (not encourage) users to subscribe to Twitter Blue, a special tier of membership that costs $8 (£6) a month, or 38.29 reis in Brazil, the third-largest market for Twitter after the US and Japan. Those 38.29 reis are about half what most people in Brazil pay each month for internet access itself and is beyond a reasonable expense for the vast majority of people there.

Imagine being the sort of person who decides that even $8 a month is worth paying for a service that just keeps getting worse. Imagine wanting to pay money to the violent and oppressive government of Saudi Arabia, one of the major investors Musk brought in on the deal. This is what Musk is demanding of Twitter users, most of whom just want to keep up with what their favourite celebrities are doing and get alerted to breaking news in their area.

While promising Twitter Blue users a slightly less annoying experience and the potential to reach a larger audience than plebeian users might, Musk has degraded the service for everyone. Whether because of indignation, arrogance, ignorance or desperation, Musk has fired more than half of the staff that it took to keep Twitter running and growing at its peak. Entire teams like trust and safety, which tried to limit threats and hate speech, have been gutted. —Guardian

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