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The Nail in Twitter's Coffin Arrives This Week

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | July 5, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | July 5, 2023 |


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Twitter has been dying slowly since Elon Musk purchased it for $44 billion less than a year ago. It hastened into a death spiral over the last week after a series of idiotic business moves on the part of Elon Musk, who has made the job of his new CEO nearly impossible. Over the weekend, he set rate limits, which was almost certainly a cover for either major technical difficulties, Musk’s incompetence, or an incredibly misguided attempt to move users over to paid accounts.

Of all the changes that Musk has made, this one was the most boneheaded, even if he pulled back on those limits within 24 hours. Not only was Twitter a bad, toxic experience where the worst of humanity could pay $8 to have their tweets prioritized but this move would prevent most users from spending a lot of time on the bird app. And for advertisers? It’s like paying to run commercials on a half-hour program that ends after four minutes.

At this point, even most of Musk’s hangers-on are either beginning to question Musk’s ability to lead the company or floating conspiracy theories to explain his incompetence as strategically brilliant — he’s purposely tanking Twitter so that he can buy back his own debt at a fraction of the cost, for instance. Things got even worse when the company announced that — in 30 days — only verified users will be able to use Tweetdeck.

The ship is sinking. Many of those who had not yet jumped ship did so over the weekend, opting in most cases to flee to Bluesky. That’s where I spent most of my social media time over the holiday, and it’s refreshingly friendly. I don’t know how long it can survive before turning into a toxic cesspool, but my hope is that it ultimately becomes the Twitter alternative.

Unfortunately, that seems unlikely. Mark Zuckerberg and Meta will launch Instagram Threads tomorrow, which is basically Facebook’s Twitter clone. The advantage it will have is that Meta has huge resources to keep it going, thousands of advertisers, and a massive existing user base. In fact, after signing up, users can simply add their Insta follows to their accounts.

Personally, I’m rooting for Bluesky. I’m not keen to give Zuckerberg even more power over us. I don’t particularly like Facebook or Instagram (I mostly quit the latter after a transphobic reader found me over there and wished cancer upon my family only three days before my son was diagnosed). Jack Dorsey and Twitter helped fund Bluesky, and Dorsey sits on its board, but it is not owned by a Wall Street corporate board of directors. It’s a decentralized network that has been incorporated as a public benefit LLC. I’m not naive enough to believe that there is nothing at all nefarious going on with Bluesky, but the motivations certainly seem more noble than that of Threads, where I am assuming the only motivation is profit. Unfortunately, in the Twitter-replacement wars, I suspect the profit motive will win out.

In the meantime, while Pajiba will continue to auto-tweet our posts onto Twitter, I am otherwise done with it. My Bluesky timeline looks close to what my Twitter timeline looks like now — it even has that one guy you really like but have to mute anyway because he posts 5x an hour — and the only reason I check Twitter anymore is to see how close it is to death. Even that schadenfreude has lost its novelty.