Elon Musk’s quest to buy Twitter came to a close today with a win for the technology mogul. Regardless of what we might have thought when Twitter was busy circling its wagons with a poison-pill defense against takeover the deal is done, and, well, here we are.
After more than a decade on Twitter and several hundred thousands tweets to my name — deleted in batches of 100,000 or so, I am overdue for another purge — I have more or less grown up on Twitter, joining back in mid-2007, the same month I turned 18. That makes the posting platform much more than a public social media company to me, or a former startup that has long since transcended its corporate youth.
Twitter is my home. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, and usually the last thing I look at before falling asleep. I’ve had to banish my phone from my bedroom at times to avoid doing more Twitter. I freaking love and live it. I have made friends on Twitter, gotten jobs from endless tweeting and met all sorts of people on the service. It’s my goddamn living room.
So, Elon, don’t fuck it up.
Twitter is not perfect and never has been. I haven’t always agreed with the company’s product choices or policy decisions. But what Twitter has mostly done during its life is keep its time-series feed accessible while working to conserve as much room for speech as possible while working on the spam issue. It’s worked.
The remit ahead of Elon is to somehow carve a path forward that makes the platform even more enticing to more folks. Some of what the company’s new owner had to say in his announcement sounds fine — “[making] Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans” — but it’s not a perfect list. Authenticating all humans will cause an uproar in the crypto space, for example, where anonymity and pseudo-anonymity are considered bedrock community values. New features can be good or distracting; Fleets was bad, but Spaces are good, that sort of thing.
You can’t just throw new shit at Twitter and make it better. If you do that you will get whatever Frankenstein-style monster Facebook became and Instagram is morphing into. Twitter is good because it did one small thing very well, and generally stuck to it. More might not be better.
On the spam front, godspeed. I would love to get fewer Coinbase support spam posts whenever I mention the company during my regular usage of Twitter. But my beefs with Twitter as a user are not inexhaustible, while potential missteps feel infinite. Let’s hope that Elon has a handful of very strong ideas, and that that list is somewhat different from what he has detailed thus far. If not, he’s going to upset part of his core fanbase: Namely the Dogecoin legions who, after all this time, still believe.
It’s easy to sit here and ask very regular questions. How will Musk balance his time, for example. Who will wind up running the day-to-day operations when the takeover is completed and settled, or whether employees stay. All that matters, but with my journalist hat off and my user hat on, I simply hope that Elon doesn’t fuck up Twitter. It is my home.