Twitter: are we witnessing the brain death of the social network?

Contrary to popular belief, people do not die in a second. Death, on the other hand, is a process: your heart beats, your breathing stops, and slowly your organs can no longer function. Your brain stops working by turns. Brain death is permanent, but your heart may continue to beat on its own for a while. Since its takeover by Elon Musk, Twitter has been in a state of brain death: the processes that keep the social network online are still beating, but Twitter will never return to the way it was before Elon Musk took over.


With Twitter being taken over by Elon Musk, employees and pundits are worried about the future of the platform

This Monday, December 12, 2022, Twitter has abolished its Trust and Safety Board. It’s a broad group of civil rights advocates, academics and experts who have been advising the company since 2016. Elon Musk has also reinstated high-profile extremists previously banned by bluebird, such as white supremacists. Patrick Casey. Among others restored, according to data compiled by researcher Travis Brown, was the Meninist account, which advocates for “men’s rights” with more than a million subscribers; Peter McCullough, a cardiologist who gained a large following after advocating for unapproved treatments for Covid-19 and publishing his views against vaccines; and far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who live-streamed his participation in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Advertising: Twitter has lost half of its top advertisers

Elon Musk’s frantic efforts to cut jobs, cut costs and dismantle Twitter’s security infrastructure have led to a mass exodus of advertisers. At one point, the company reportedly lost half of its top 100 advertising clients and posted results for weekly US ad revenue that were 80% below budget. Elon Musk’s attitude is forcing the rest of the brands to ask themselves some tough questions. The company, for example, stopped using it covid-19 disinformation policy.


After being taken over by Elon Musk, Twitter lost about a million users

Tweets are also divided. While some people appreciate Elon Musk’s vision for Twitter, others have a harder time justifying his presence on the social network. They take a break or move to other platforms. According to one estimate, Twitter may have lost a million users in the days after the bluebird, the CEO of the car company Tesla, took over. Some internet users refuse to tweet even if they haven’t deleted their account yet. Among them are well-known figures: Elton John left Twitter on December 9. To justify his decision, he cited the platform’s policy changes regarding misinformation.

MIT Technology Review conducted an analysis using Hoaxy, a tool created by Indiana University, to show how information spreads on Twitter by looking at both keyword frequency and interactions between individual accounts. The results show that Elon Musk has taken on a new role in this social network: support for the far right.

The tool visually represents interactions, showing the connection between individual Twitter accounts on a given keyword or hashtag, and whether that account is an account amplifying the search term for others, or has been mentioned by accounts that have done so. Accounts that are most actively involved in conversations appear as nodes.

Thus, Elon Musk was the main “hub” of activity around the use of the homophobic slur “equal” between Friday, December 9 and Sunday, December 11, the period during which we conducted our analysis. (We ran a second poll on Wednesday, Dec. 14, and got similar results.) Although Elon Musk didn’t directly tweet the word, a report from GLAAD and Media Matters shows that its use has increased dramatically in frequency and reach. Since the billionaire takeover of Twitter. Elon Musk was mentioned in conversations where tweets used this insult.

Elon Musk regularly interacts with far-right figures

In some cases, netizens were openly trying to get the attention of the new head of Twitter. They sought to gain visibility and implicitly identify those on the receiving end of the insult as potential targets of persecution. In other cases, Elon Musk is mentioned in conversations where internet users use this insult to attack those who directly disagree with him, such as Jack Dorsey, the co-founder and former CEO of a company that calls out to Elon Musk. Twitter last week protested claims that the community had “refused to take action against child abuse for years”! Elon Musk regularly interacts with a very active group of users and fans, including conservative meme accounts and far-right figures such as Ian Miles Cheong and Andy Ngo.

Elon Musk is not content with allowing these conversations, but is becoming more and more involved. “My pronouns are Prosecutor/Fauci,” he tweeted last weekend. A response to astronaut Scott Kelly, clearly pleading: “Not to mock and promote hatred against members of the already marginalized and abused #LGBTQ+ community.” Elon Musk added: “Forcing your pronouns on others when they don’t want it and implicitly excluding those who don’t want it is neither good nor good for anyone.”


After being taken over by Elon Musk, Twitter has become a toxic platform for the LGBTQ+ community

Last weekend, Elon Musk also took part in a smear campaign targeting Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and security, who was targeted by unsubstantiated allegations of child molestation. Elon Musk has already been cleared of defamation after he called a British caver involved in a rescue operation for Thailand’s youth soccer team a “pedophile”. This time, he did not go so far as to accuse Joel Roth of being a pedophile. He reacted after being tagged by the podcast host in conversation on one of Yoel Roth’s old tweets. According to CNN, Yoel Roth was forced to leave his home and go into hiding after receiving numerous death threats. Yoel Roth, who contacted MIT Technology Review, did not respond to our inquiries.

Twitter operates in a “genocide market”.

Elon Musk makes quick decisions through Twitter polls, which are sometimes not based on any scientific research and are easy to manipulate.

Twitter’s new CEO is focused on promoting far-right American free speech discourse and completely ignores Twitter’s role across the planet. Its takeover of Twitter is “apocalyptic,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of the Equality Lab, a Dalit civil rights organization. Thenmozhi Soundararajan was part of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, working with the platform to find solutions to people using the social network as a tool to incite violence against minority groups in India.

“We have an American company operating in a genocidal market,” said Tenmozhi Soundararajan, adding that all Twitter employees his organization worked with had been fired.


With the collapse of Twitter, traces of our history may disappear

This version of Twitter, bearing the imprint of Elon Musk, is both important and broken. To date, there is no reliable alternative for long-time users of the social network to ask for help, gain visibility and build communities. Still, Elon Musk has shown himself to be an antagonist to some of these groups.

Many tweeters—those not like Elon Musk—have seen Twitter’s vitals slowly shut down and wondered how to respond. Should we stay and fight to survive, hoping that the people who were there before Elon Musk took over would just survive him? Or is it time to go?

Katherine Cross, a doctoral student at the University of Washington who studies mass violence online, said that Twitter is probably not going to be healthy again, and that it’s time to consider the platform a social network for a “small community” of people who think like Elon Musk. .

“We can’t force Twitter to do anything,” he said. “We need to consider its place in the Internet ecosystem.”

Article by Abby Ohleiser, translated from English by Kozi Pastakia.


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