Tuesday, March 21, 2023

As Musk buyout looms, Twitter searches for its soul

SAN FRANCISCO ( Associated Press) — A poisonous cesspool. a life line. One finger on the pulse of the world. Twitter is all these things and more to its more than 217 million users worldwide – politicians, journalists, activists, celebrities, the weirdo and the ideal, cat and dog lovers and just about anyone else with an internet connection.

for Elon MuskIts ultimate troll and perhaps most prolific user whose purchases of the company are on an increasingly volatile basisTwitter is a “real city square” in dire need of a liberal change.

Whether and how the takeover will happen, at this stage in the game, is no one’s guess. On Friday, Musk announced the deal was “on hold,” then tweeted that he was still “committed” to it. On Tuesday, the CEO of billionaire Tesla said he would reverse former President Donald Trump’s ban of the platform If her purchases continue, but at the same time she has voiced support for a new EU law aimed at protecting social media users from harmful content.

It’s been a bad few weeks and only one thing seems certain: The turmoil will continue for Twitter, both inside and outside the company.

“Twitter has always been chaos at its highest. There has always been intrigue and there has always been drama,” says Leslie Miley, a former Twitter engineering manager. “It,” he says, “is in Twitter’s DNA. ”

‘What are people thinking about’

From its debut as a formidable “microblogging service” in 2007 to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, Twitter has always punched above its weight.

At a time when its rivals have counted its users in the billions, it remains small, frustrating Wall Street and making it easy for Musk to swoon with an offer his board can’t refuse.

But Twitter also makes an unmatched impact on news, politics, and society, thanks to its public nature, its simple, largely text-based interface, and sense of chronological urgency.

Associated Press Technology writer Michael Lidtke wrote in a 2009 story, “It’s a potluck of whimsy, self-expression, sexuality, hucksterism, tedium, and sometimes simmering with useful information.” About a few months after the company declined a $500 million purchase from Facebook. Twitter had 27 employees at the time and its most popular user was Barack Obama.

Today, the San Francisco icon employs 7,500 people worldwide. Obama is still its most popular account holder, followed by pop stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry (Musk is number 6). Twitter’s rise into the mainstream can be played out in real time on the platform in the form of world events, wars, terror attacks, the Arab Spring, the #metoo movement and other important moments in our collective history.

“Twitter often attracts thinkers. People who are thinking about things are attracted to text-based platforms. And it’s full of journalists. So Twitter is a reflection of both and what people are thinking about.” has been a driver of it,” says writer, editor and OnlyFans creator Kathy Reisenwitz, who has been on Twitter since 2010 and has more than 18,000 followers.

These days, Reisenwitz tweets about politics, sex work, housing and land use issues, among many other things. She loves discovering people and ideas and letting others discover her writings and thoughts. That’s why she’s stayed for so many yearsShe has been received on stage despite harassment and even death threats.

Academics, Twitter users in specific fields, those with quirky interests, subcultures small and large, grassroots activists, researchers and many others flock to the platform. Why? Because at its best, it promises an open, free exchange of facts and ideas, where knowledge is shared, debated and questioned. Journalists, Reisenwitz recalled, were among the first to really take up Twitter and make it what it is today.

“If I’m on Twitter, (almost) any journalist, no matter how big their platform, will answer you if you said something interesting and you can have a conversation about what they wrote and get very real. There’s time,” Ressenwitz says. “And I just thought, This is amazing. Whatever field you’re in, you can talk to experts and ask them questions.”

And those subcultures—they’re formidable. There are Black Twitter, Feminist Twitter, Baseball Twitter, Japanese Cat Twitter, ER Nars Twitter, etc.

“It’s enabling interest groups, especially those organized around social identities, whether we’re talking about gender or sexuality or race, are really important group dialogues,” says Cornell University professor Brooke Erin Duffy. Media.

In a 2018 study on social media subcultures – Black Twitter, Asian American Twitter and Feminist Twitter – The Knight Foundation found that they not only helped challenge communities’ top-down, sometimes problematic views, but also influenced widespread media coverage on important issues.

“So there’s this really interesting flow of information that’s not only communicating from top-down, mainstream media subcultures, but allowing different groups, in this case Black Twitter, to have really important, impactful conversations.” The media picked up and circulated to the wider public,” Duffy says.

Software engineer Cher Scarlett says that while Twitter is far from perfect — and, undeniably, home to harassment, hate speech and misinformation — it’s still a step above many platforms. That’s because Twitter at least tried to address Toxic content, she says, along with improvements like Twitter Safety Mode, is now testing a product that will make it easier for users to stop harassment. Scarlett has repeatedly faced online abuse for her advocacy for women in the tech sector.

“I’ve been on Twitter ever since it started. Twitter is a big part of my network,” Scarlett says. “There really is nothing like it.”

the dark side

On the other side of Twitter’s urgency, the public, open-mindedness and 280-character (once 140-character) limit is a perfect recipe for running passion high — especially anger.

“When dealing with fans, emotions can boil over, especially if you’re sharing anything negative about their teams,” says Steve Phillips, former general manager of the New York Mets who now hosts a show on MLB Network radio. Is. “Twitter’s anonymity empowers people to take the occasional shot, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to communicate with people with similar interests.”

But it’s not all baseball Twitter. There’s also the huge, scary, dark side of Twitter. This is the Twitter of the Nazis, of the crazy trolls, of the conspirators and funding large-scale networks to influence elections to nation states.

Jaime Longoria, manager of research and training for the DisInfo Defense League, a nonprofit that works with community organizations to fight misinformation, says Musk’s purchase of Twitter jeopardizes a platform that many experts believe in. Believes to have done a better job of reining in harmful content. compared to its competitors.

He worries that Musk will relax moderation rules, which provide some protection against white supremacy, hate speech, threats of violence, and harassment. He says that he hopes he is wrong. “We’re watching and waiting,” Longoria says. “Twitter as we know it may end. I think Twitter as we know it will cease to exist.”

In a series of tweets in 2018, then-CEO Jack Dorsey said the company was committed to “collective health, a civility of openness and public dialogue, and being publicly accountable to progress.”

“We have seen abuse, harassment, troll armies, bots and manipulation through human-coordinated, misinformation campaigns and increasingly divisive echo chambers. We are not proud of how people took advantage of our service, or our inability to address this swiftly,” he wrote.

Twitter has worked to make things better under the leadership of its trust and security team. It created new policies, added labels on false informationRepeated violators kicked of its rules against hatred, inciting violence and other harmful activities.

Since the 2016 US presidential elections, social media companies have been reflecting on how Russia used its platforms To influence American politics. In the fit and early on, things are starting to improve, at least in the United States and Western Europe.

At its best, Twitter connects people around the world to participate in an open exchange of ideas. Musk recently told The Associated Press that he wants Twitter to be “inclusive” and “where ideally most of America is on this and talking.” But that doesn’t take into account the fact that most of Twitter’s user base is outside the United States—and that Twitter looks very different to the rest of the world, where American party-line divisions and free speech arguments matter little. Huh.

For example, outside Western democracies, users say that not much has changed when it comes to cracking down on hate and misinformation.

“There is a lot of hate on Twitter, especially directed at minorities. And so there’s always an ongoing battle to crack down on hate speech, often violent hate speech, and fake news on Twitter. And yes, I think Twitter is really not good enough for this,” says Shoaib Daniyal, associate editor of Indian news website Scroll.

“Twitter is almost like a central node, feeding political activities to TV channels and journalists and WhatsApp groups.”

Daniels says, Musk’s freedom of expression has no meaning in India because initially there is no restriction on giving speeches on the stage.

“It’s filled with quite a bit of hate anyway,” he says. “And Twitter hasn’t done much about it. So let’s see where it goes.” Which, given Musk’s fickle nature, could go in almost any direction.


Associated Press writer David Klepper contributed to this story from Providence, Rhode Island.


Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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