If you’ve been following the on-off saga of Elon Musk and Twitter, you’ll know that it’s been a torturous few months for social media watchers who today are either crying in their beers or popping corks. The richest man in the world is said to have finally pushed the big red button and has reportedly fired CEO Parag Agrawal, along with a number of other executives who are said to have been escorted from Twitter’s HQ by security guards. To be honest, I’ve only ever seen that happen on TV where characters are clutching a cardboard box containing photos of their wife and kids, an old baseball glove, and perhaps the odd company award. Succession is a good example of that, but I’ve never seen it happen in real life, except when I was fired that time, but I digress.
Two of Elon Musk’s Tweets earlier today…
“The bird is freed.” and “Let the good times roll.”
Mr. Musk is reported to have paid $44 billion for Twitter which is a vast amount of money, but the meaning of his purchase goes way beyond mere dollars and cents. It’s about power and control, bearing in mind that Twitter has almost 400 million global subscribers. I’m one of those subscribers, but I’m a lurker and frankly, I don’t take it very seriously at all, at least as far as global news is concerned, preferring to rely on more reliable sources. But the fact remains that social media is hugely influential like it or not, because the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram collectively have massive reach. Elon Musk is said to be a free-speech absolutist and his purchase of Twitter has left many scratching their heads and wondering what he intends to do with his new toy. I too believe in free speech, but it comes at a price. Telling the world that you cured your arthritis by injecting yourself with WD40 is free speech, but it’s also dangerous. It’s surprising, or maybe not, just how many people believe the crap that’s spouted on social media, so one can easily see how easy it can be to swing popular opinion in one direction or the other. I must add here that DCT is NOT a political forum, but it’s difficult to separate the political implications of this purchase from the social and financial aspects.
Twitter is a huge global soapbox, not dissimilar to Speaker’s Corner at Hyde Park Corner, London but of course on a massively greater scale and there’s no doubt that Mr. Musk is clearly aware of that. But let’s face it, this shift in the ‘order of things’ raises more questions than answers and one does not have to be a genius to at least wonder whether the permanent bans imposed on certain characters in the last couple of years will be overturned. After all, there is a new captain at the helm, or as Mr. Musk describes himself, a new ‘chief twit’.