🦄 vol. 40
emily (this week's feature) chats about elon musk's twitter takeover
this week’s feature is one of the coolest digital marketers in the game: on paper, emily has a background in economics, law and financial analysis. but you’re more likely to find her doing cold water swims or conquering everest base camp… all while balancing freelance work for a host of purpose-driven businesses.
musk: free speech saviour or marketing genius? 🤔
If you haven’t seen the headline “Elon Musk $44Bn Twitter Takeover” then it’s probably time to crawl out from under that rock. It’s caused a controversy around questions of free speech, censorship, regulation and privatisation of the platform. Good or bad (or no intentions - we’ve all splurged on useless items when faced with extra cash… Perhaps this is just the same phenomenon at scale?) Mr Musk’s moves are worth a second look (and I’m not talking about these moves…)
So what may be the implications of this hostile takeover and why should we care?
The value of Twitter as a platform for public discourse 🗣
Our society is built on the evolution of ideas, knowledge and information in the public sphere. Not all ideas are created equal - but that’s the point. We share, debate, discard, improve and evolve our ways of thinking over time. Vital to this process is other people, opposing ideas and different perspectives. Or else we’re just shouting stupidities into an echo chamber (shoutout Truth Social - ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh).
Where does this evolution take place? Gone are the days of town halls and speaker’s corners… If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’ll know it’s a thriving arena for public debate and political discourse. And if we are going to treat it as such, we have to ask the question: is Twitter sufficiently unbiased and well-equipped to promote the free speech that should characterise public platforms?
Impacts of privatisation 🛩
As a publicly-traded company, Twitter is subject to regulations and has authority to ban, remove and censor people’s posts. While we may not all agree as to the degree of censorship, there is certainly value in these regulations when it comes to child pornography and the like. One argument by those wary of Musk’s takeover - specifically the fact that he is taking Twitter private - is that he will no longer be subjected to these regulations and will trash the censorship policies Twitter’s employees have spent years developing, especially given his pro-free-speech sentiment.
However, Musk’s recent comment that he won’t disregard laws and regulations in pursuit of free speech and that policies will “match the law” may have provided these adversaries with some comfort. In fact, Musk’s privatisation plan may bring about some changes like greater transparency in the algorithm, cleaning Twitter of its notorious bots and getting rid of advertising. Pretty positive if you ask me (unless you’re an advertiser). Musk may actually be moving Twitter closer to being the “free speech wing of the free speech party” it was once promised to be.
Marketing genius? 👩🏻🚀
So it’s all very well that Elon is going to champion free speech. And perhaps we should all be grateful? But a sprinkle of scepticism is always useful. As an avid tweeter (or is it twit?), there’s no doubt that Musk’s moves are influential. Last year, Bitcoin’s value surged over 20% when Musk changed his bio to #bitcoin (It could use some of that magic right about now @Elon). And let’s not even go into his other Do(d)ge obsessions… Simply put, his ability to move markets is to his own benefit and there’s no guarantee that this unlikely influencer won’t take advantage of this.
We’ve all been warned of the dangers of running your business/ brand entirely off of a social media platform. We’ve all heard horror stories of influencers devoting months worth of bikini pics and building a significant following… Only to be kicked off due to a nip slip. With this in mind (and at a slightly larger scale), we can’t ignore the possibility that Musk is just buying his own marketing machine. Have we all inadvertently been signed up to Elon Musk’s mailing list? Is this just another Truth Social, the microphone and echo chamber of a powerful, influential individual under the guise of a ‘free speech’ platform?
Stuck between a rock and a hard place 😰
Perhaps we’re holding Twitter to too high a standard and we should just forget its role as a platform for public discourse? Unfortunately the reality is that if we want to keep improving ideas and evolving as a society we need to have an unbiased platform in which ideas are shared, debated, discarded and ultimately improved. The danger is that biassing platforms one way or another doesn’t do anything to silence voices with which you disagree - it just sends them somewhere else where they can share their views unchallenged. But if Twitter is going to be a public space, we’re going to need to put our faith in one individual to protect the principle of free speech… And I don’t know if I’m quite ready to do that.
while on the topic of twitter, sash recommends reading the ceo’s thread on the bot issue
emily thinks you should check out this upcoming fast food - pop culture collab slash data grab
matt found this podcast eye-opening - it covers our attention crisis and how to go about reclaiming yours