by Roger L. Simon
“Twitter’s a boring, broken product,” Jason Miller told me during a phone call the morning of Oct. 28. “Unsalvageable. The numbers don’t make any sense. Twitter’s dead.”
We were talking only a day or so after the final purchase of the company by Elon Musk for a whopping $44 billion.
Of course, Miller happens to be the founder and CEO of competing social media company GETTR, so not exactly a neutral party.
But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. The $44 billion price tag is a big chunk of change, even to the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, and there is some reason to believe that Musk was backed into it or backed himself into it over the bots (phony accounts) controversy.
Musk tweeted out his well-known goal for the company on the day the purchase closed:
“It is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”
Miller is skeptical that the entrepreneur can succeed in this, due to the company’s entrenched bias.
“Unless Elon Musk fires every coder, every engineer, and every moderator in the entire company and starts all over, political discrimination is going to persist at Twitter,” he declared. “It’s too fundamentally rooted in their culture.”
Probably true. But Musk has already terminated three major executives—CEO Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, and head of legal, policy, and trust Vijaya Gadde—for severance of nearly $122 million among them, according to Forbes.
Gadde, given her legal position, likely had jurisdiction over the company’s most notorious decisions (i.e., canceling the Hunter Biden laptop story). With an annual salary of $17 million in 2021, there’s clearly money in censorship.
The left, of course, sees it differently.
From Politico: “Gadde’s removal is a ‘long-term catastrophe,’ said Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of watchdog nonprofit Accountable Tech. ‘She’s the moral compass and clear-eyed leader of the sort of decision-making team there on everything from standing up to laws that violate human rights from authoritarian regimes … to making decisions on election integrity violations and hate speech in the U.S.’”
Many other firings will undoubtedly occur, but there’s a deeper reason that Twitter is unlikely to achieve Musk’s dream of a digital town square.
The two sides do not, as grammar school teachers used to say, “work and play well together.” (We tried respectful dialogue at the beginning of PJ Media and it lasted about two weeks.)
The left, almost always as a religion replacement, works from their strong feelings about what should be true or should happen, and has only a nominal interest in the actual facts of a situation. The right, usually already religious, most often starts with the facts to arrive at truth.
This fundamental difference has existed in our culture for decades, but it’s been exacerbated as never before by the internet.
Who will finally adjudicate this in a fair manner? Musk and his moderation team?
The left already sees him as a conservative and, to some extent, they’re right.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, those luminous beings known as celebrities, almost uniformly leftist and “feelings” dominated, have already been leaving Twitter.
“‘I’m out of here,’” declared “This Is Us” executive producer Ken Olin to his 300,000 followers on Oct. 28 after previously pledging, ‘The day @elonmusk takes ownership of Twitter, I’m out.’ ‘No judgement. Let’s keep the faith. Let’s protect our democracy. Let’s try to be kinder. Let’s try to save the planet. Let’s try to be more generous. Let’s look to find peace in the world.’
He noted he was going to try TribelSocial instead.
Others are headed over to TikTok, undeterred that it’s owned by the communist Chinese.
After a certain period, the mainstream reporters also will start to leave, although some will remain to use it as a source for breaking news or to advertise their products. Others will stealthily migrate over to Truth Social to make sure they don’t miss the latest utterance of The Donald.
Trump has thus far indicated he has no interest in returning to Twitter even if Musk reinstates him—and why should he when he owns the competition?
So where is Twitter headed under Musk?
I submit more or less where GETTR and Truth Social are already headed—toward being right-of-center social clubs with large, even international, constituencies.
Political content will still be there, but not as prevalent, particularly after the midterms.
Taking a cue from TikTok, they will mutate further into entertainment platforms. Considering how conservative artists are throttled by Hollywood, there is potential here.
GETTR has already been having success with its “livestreams” and will shortly be offering a comedy show from the U.K., among other productions.
Truth Social, which was recently celebrating its anniversary in Nashville, Tennessee, at country star John Rich’s home cum night club, has finally been admitted to the Google Play Store, months after it appeared on the Apple App Store, greatly enlarging the company’s scope and opening the way for activities in many areas.
That the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), which owns Truth Social, could morph into a large production company is hardly a stretch.
Is there room for three such companies? Why not? There’s Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount… and a lot more.
But is this a “digital town square” of Musk’s dream?
Ironically, maybe the town square itself is changing, less the politically intense Speaker’s Corner of London’s Hyde Park and more the phantasmagoria of the Jemaa El-Fna in Marrakech, Morocco.
The Epoch Times has several other sections now too, doesn’t it?