Pundits, lecturers and members of the general public have criticized Elon Musk’s profitable bid to accumulate Twitter. Some Twitter customers have even thought of leaving the platform.
For these critics and anxious customers, Musk’s bid for the social media is a danger to the liberty of expression one of the crucial vital communication venues within the info financial system.
Whereas the development to bypass the media has been rising in latest many years because of entry to info and communication applied sciences (ICTs), Musk’s proposed takeover doesn’t appear to make sense.
What could possibly be the true motivation behind his takeover of Twitter?
Musk’s plan to accumulate Twitter has a number of historic precedents the place the wealthy and the highly effective tried to manage their very own media to achieve the general public with out different intermediaries.
In 2006, Twitter was created at Odeo Tasks as a aspect venture providing a short-messaging system (SMS) to taxi drivers. The venture took off, and shortly Twitter was spun off into its personal entity.
In 2013, Twitter turned a public firm traded on the New York Inventory Change.
In April 2022, Musk reached a deal to accumulate the platform after going through preliminary constraints and a rebuff by the corporate’s board.
Capital funding within the media will not be new. For instance, journalist Henry Jarvis Raymond and banker George Jones based the New York Instances. At present, industrialists and entrepreneurs personal most media venues, resembling Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’s buy of the Washington Publish in 2013.
Very like Mark Zuckerberg’s Fb, Musk’s Twitter turns into a natively grown media group; meaning not like conventional media, each platforms allow sharing between customers, as an alternative of pushing content material at audiences.
The time period “robber baron” was used to explain Nineteenth-century American industrialists and financiers in an unflattering method. They’re portrayed as grasping businessmen who seize management over industries and privatized utilities by means of unethical enterprise practices.
The historical past of robber barons is crammed with the epic and sensational depictions of enterprise leaders resembling Charles Tyson Yerkes, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould and John D. Rockefeller by the media. Typically, robber barons turn out to be the subject of dialogue and gossip — critics denounce them within the media.
Early critics typically drew comparisons between robber barons and medieval feudal lords who unfairly maintained management over primary requirements and sources of their societies.
A lot of the criticism in opposition to Musk, Bezos and Zuckerberg — and different Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Google founders Sergei Brin and Larry Web page — is eerily harking back to the criticisms levelled in opposition to Nineteenth-century robber barons.
The platforms exploited by Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Brin and Web page have turn out to be crucial public utilities within the info financial system, and these media barons exploit folks’s information for their very own private acquire.
Some can understand their wealth and affect over the media as harmful for democracy. Whereas democratic issues are reputable, one other perspective could assist us perceive Musk’s US$44 billion buy of Twitter.
(Samuel Ehrhardt, Puck Journal, Nov. 6, 1889)
Authorized scholar Tim Wu writes that the enlargement and contraction of data platforms results in disruptive innovation when a number of platforms compete with each other, and consolidation when rising dominant gamers try to claim their maintain over info.
Very like Italy earlier than the First World Battle, Twitter will not be highly effective sufficient to problem the powers of its day — Google, Apple, Fb, Amazon and Microsoft. However it’s too large to be ignored or swallowed by them.
Musk’s acquisition of Twitter provides the platform to his eclectic assortment of disruptive industries: Tesla Motors, Neuralink, SolarCity and SpaceX. Nevertheless, not like Musk’s earlier tasks, which he purchased both early of their improvement or based, Twitter will not be a disruptive expertise, whereas the contents of its customers will be. Musk could declare that he needs to disrupt information and permit for better freedom of expression, however he didn’t have to buy Twitter for that.
Elon Musk and the oligarchs of the ‘Second Gilded Age’ cannot solely sway the general public — they will exploit their information, too
Musk wants direct entry to customers’ consideration to make use of Twitter because the cement that may propel all of his different ventures additional. Fears that Musk will make the social media platform pleasant to far-right conservatives are exaggerated.
Musk wants to draw customers who’re innovators and early adopters to persuade the lots that his ventures are worthwhile. Nevertheless, far-right conservatives don’t are usually innovators or early adopters of latest applied sciences. Reasonably, they are usually a part of the late majority and laggards.
Metaverses and cryptocurencies
The individuals who worry Musk’s maintain over Twitter as we speak are sometimes a part of essentially the most fascinating demographic promoters of latest applied sciences search. To know Musk’s buy of Twitter, one should assume as he does — strategically and tactically.
Musk wants Twitter to propel the subsequent phases of his enterprise ventures that embody cryptocurrencies. He might also be getting ready to begin a metaverse of his personal and tackle Fb’s model by becoming a member of Twitter to the mind interfaces developed by Neuralink.
Twitter already has a wealthy range of customers from varied demographics, together with the innovators and early adopters that make or break new info platforms. They’ve a stake in sustaining their presence on Twitter due to years of publishing and creating their identities on the platform. The community connections and entry offered by means of Twitter is a profit to many customers.
If Twitter is essential to the subsequent phases of Musk’s enterprise ventures, one of the crucial vital duties he has is to persuade uncertain customers that he’s extra of a benevolent ruler than a despicable robber baron. He should persuade them that it’s enterprise as ordinary whereas he continues to develop the platform’s person base.