Plain English with Derek Thompson - Instant Reaction Pod! Elon Musk Buys Twitter. So, What Happens Next

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Today’s episode is an instant reaction episode.


And you know what?

The news is Elon Musk is about Twitter.

Elon Musk has bought Twitter for forty four billion dollars.

And this is one of the weirdest Tech Acquisitions I can recall, to be honest.

I still can’t believe that this even happened for a few days.


It looked like, it wasn’t going to happen.

It looked like Twitter was going to successfully fight off the acquisition, but this morning, Monday morning, it seemed relatively inevitable.

That Elon Musk would acquire Are the company thus becoming the chief executive of not only Tesla, the most valuable car company in the world.


Not only SpaceX the most advanced Space and Rocket company in the world, but also now Twitter Twitter is, you know, I think it’s important to say at incredibly important product.

It is the straw that stirs.

The drink of news discourse.

It’s also not a very good business.


This is a company that has lost in the history of its being a publicly traded company 860 million dollars.

It’s lost almost a billion.

Dollars and its history of being a publicly traded company, in 33 earnings calls.

It has only reported a profit in 14 of them again, amazing, influential product.


Not a very good business.

Which raises the question.

What is Elon Musk doing?

What, what does he want to do with Twitter?

And why would he acquire it Wall?

Street Journal, has a wonderful rundown of all the things.

The substantial changes.

He wants to make to Twitter.

He wants to soften it stance on content.


Moderation musk has a free speech absolutist.

That’s how he describes himself.

He Use Twitter as a de facto Town Square and he wants to broaden the birth of a public expression.

So that more speech more speech can be had on Twitter that could lead to all sorts of, you know, lovely things.


A broadening of speech on its own doesn’t sound so bad.

Could also lead to more abuse and harassment and Far Right far left extremism.

He wants to create and edit feature for tweets.

That doesn’t sound so bad.

He wants to open Twitter’s algorithm, which could I think lead to some pretty useful?


Innovation I think Twitter’s Innovation is probably been a little bit static for power users like me.

He wants to give users who pay for Twitter, blue authentication checkmarks.

He wants to rely Less on Advertising.

This is predicting.

The interesting.

Twitter is an advertising business.

Advertising is more than 90 percent of its Revenue, but Elon doesn’t seem to see advertising is the future of Twitter’s business, and he also wants to stop spam and scam Bots.


It’s very important to Elon Musk.

That Twitter be a space for authenticated people to express themselves.


Not a place for Spam and scam Bots to presume or imitate free speech.

So those are the reasons.

Now, what happens next?

I have no idea.


I think the only smart way that you can possibly tease out.

What happens next is to look at multiple timelines.

And that’s why I was really gratified to see that my colleague Charlie Wars, L.

The author of the Galaxy brain newsletter at the Atlantic, wrote a wonderful article, the worst-case scenario for Elon musk’s Twitter that goes through the best medium best.


And Worst case scenario for what happens to the social media company.

He is my guest for today’s episode and we talked about why musk did this.

What comes next for Twitter?

How this news could change Tech and how it could change the news, political information landscape of the United States and the world.


I’m Derek Thompson.

This is plain English.


Charlie Wars L.

Welcome to the podcast.

Thanks for having me.

So, my head is like completely spinning right now.

I honestly, like, I did not think this was going to happen when he announced the bid.

I thought I was in crazyville when I seemed like, he might actually go through with the purchase.


I thought things were getting even crazier and when he actually announced or when it was actually announced that Twitter accepted the bid.

I was just astonished.

What is Betty.

You’re sort of emotional roller coaster ride, like for the last few weeks.

Just kind of watching the Elon Musk news is a as a user of Twitter and as a commentator on all things Tech.


Yeah, exhaustion, I guess is one of them just like I feel like the way that things play out with musk is Is actually very similar to the way that things will play out with Donald Trump, which is that you’re sort of like the, he’s constantly creating these pseudo events, where, you know, these sort of mass attentional events like some outlandish claim or, you know, some kind of like trollish winky type of thing.


And the the ultimate reaction is, is this real, can he do this?

Where what should my level of alarm be versus my level of, like, I’m getting out over my skis here.

I wish my level of Credulity be like real.

Most people say I’m gonna buy a company or I’m going to take my company private.


They mean, it 100% of the time.

But with musk, it’s basically like a coin flip probability.

Like I’m going to take test the private.

No, he didn’t.

I’m going to buy Twitter.


He actually did.

It’s very very difficult to know when to take him.


So one thing I want to do you wrote a really fantastic newsletter, your newsletters Galaxy brain that looks at three potential timelines for a musk.


Owned Twitter.

I think one good way to sort of emergency.

Star way through this morass of confusion, is to do what you did break down.

Are possible Futures into optimistic less optimistic and mildly dystopian.


Is that a fair representation of the, of the, the the valence of your three timelines optimistic, semi optimistic and mildly dystopian.

Yeah, I think so.

I mean, I would say optimistic is probably like less happens than we think and then going all the way to.

It’s basically, like how much control he exercises over the place.


Up to some degree and it goes sort of dystopian the higher, the higher.

You get that right?

All right.

Well, let’s start with the most optimistic timeline here.

What does this look?


What does it look like if Elon Musk becomes the leader?


The CEO of Twitter on top of being the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and things?

Turn out sort of.


So I think this one is where essentially He gets very excited at the beginning to make some, you know, broad changes and sort of an act, his view on it.


But what ends up being the sort of new shiny toy ends up being kind of a boring and logistical nightmare for him.

And then he ultimately off loads that, you know, onto his underlings.

And then, you know, divert his attention to the things that do interest him.

And in this version, you know, I think he starts off with some maybe some, some big splashy, things trying to reinstate some accounts that he thinks You know, were either unfairly band or, you know, sort of trying to give a free speech maximalist approach.


So like, you know, Donald Trump could be one of those, right?

But it could be any number of accounts and maybe it’s just a whole bunch of you know, smaller accounts from people who’ve been kicked off for what he views as you know, ticky-tack misinformation, you know, in fractions.


And so it kind of kicks off this, you know, this media cycle and we all complain about It but it’s not necessarily clear whether the platform is worse off or not.

And then after that, all the things he wants to do are going to be a lot harder to write a lot of these content moderation rules when it comes to implementing them are just like they’re exhausting, you know, you have to sort of war game out all these different strategies.


Like does he really want to deal with child exploitation content and, you know, trying to find ways around like hashing to make sure the child porn doesn’t circulate on the platform like There’s these thorny content moderation issues that people have been debating and arguing about and Twitter.


And every other social media platform has been, you know, agonizing over since their Inception, essentially, and no one’s found a wonderful strategies for these.

So, you know, I see, I see him kind of getting disinterested there and kind of going by the wayside, but some of the, you know, some of the things he might have implemented adding reinstating some accounts and or maybe rolling back, some of the trust and safety requirements.


Quirements, you know, maybe changing the TOs the terms of service.

So certain things aren’t, you know, as big of violations or you know adding more strikes for people with that I think would do.

So this this scenario.

I’m describing.

I think, what sort of take Twitter back to like, let’s just say like 2016 Twitter, right?


Which is a place where there was more harassment, fewer bands, for people being kicked off the platform.

It was sort of, you know, easier to, you know, poke the bear.

And not and not get burned, right?

It was more chaos.

It was it was a little bit more abuse.


It was a little bit more harassment.

This is before essentially, the wild west, that is Twitter, essentially mounted a police force to actually sort of, you know, monitor the city and and enforce laws.

I think the idea the picture that you’re painting is pretty plausible, you know, one way that I thought about as I was reading your piece.


It’s like he’s going to Elon is going to take over, he’s going to fix the easy things quickly and He might get bored of the hard problems.

Right and I do think it’s important to say that there are some easy things that a Twitter lover could change if they became in charge of Twitter.


Like it’s important to say that like as an I’m starting at the most optimistic level here and we’re gonna get two more pessimistic in a second.

But like there are things about Twitter that are bad and obviously, bad, you’ve written about the trending topics box, which is just like an absolutely embarrassing piece of real estate.


Like it will not stop telling me about Sheen Gun Kelly and Zendaya’s new red carpet looks.

I don’t care about Machine Gun Kelly.

I don’t need to see what’s in dire war and your last Red Carpet and yet, I keep seeing them.

So, someone who actually uses Twitter, like Elon Musk could actually look at that and say, this is not an essential part or a positive part of my experience on the platform.


So I’m going to fix it.

He could do that.

Maybe with DM as well.

I think there’s a lot of ways, the DMS could be fixed.

That DMS could be more searchable that Twitter itself.

Could be more searchable that we could maybe two.

Download everything that we’ve written on Twitter, take it offline and then search through it.

There might just be ways to make Twitter more useful to a power user like Elon Musk and only a power user.


Like Elon Musk can solve those problems.

The board of directors of Twitter.

Don’t use Twitter like you, you look at them, you go right through them.

They do not use the service that they are, the board’s, the board of directors of it’s a very bizarre situation.

So I’m optimistic that some of these easy problems can be fixed.


Next, but eventually you drill your way down to the hard problems and Elon Musk.

I think is a technical genius.

I think he’s an engineering genius.

I think PayPal and Tesla, and SpaceX are extraordinary achievements, but this isn’t money.

This is cars.

This isn’t Rockets.


This is human nature and human nature bites back.


Nature is dirty as F and Twitter.

Is unregular bubble.

It is this, this is not something that can be solved by engineering prowess.

This is dirty.

Rotten disgusting human nature and that I think it’s essentially going to be the hard problem that he’s going to bore his way into realize.


It’s too hard and say, you know, what?

Ironically, I’m making more progress.

Going to Mars and refocus attention there.

Anything there that you disagree with?

No, I mean, I think that that’s true and I think I think a little bit of that like Twitter is unranked.

Global is, is what I mean to.


When I talk about like 2016 Twitter, in terms of like the leadership, like, 2016 is a period of time where A lot of the people who are promoting like a free-speech maximalism, you know, version of this, like just kind of like you said, let’s there’s no cops in this city.


We’re just going to like let it go.

It’s the moment where I think a lot of those people finally kind of gave up on that.

And said, you know, it’s true that like if we want communal spaces, if we want conversations that feel healthy, they feel generative.

We want this service to not completely continue to devolve.


We are going to need to change some things.

That’s okay.

And I think that you know, a lot of the founders walking that back is saying that like we kind of did get it wrong.

We approach this problem in a naive way.

We built this service without knowing it was going to scale up to what it is that I was going to have this kind of prevalence in the cultural conversation.


And so, you know, they have all one way or another, even Jack Dorsey, who seems to be in line with the must take over have ended this.

And so I think the real rollback is I think musk is kind of Entering this.

Now with the very similar ethos to, you know, what you saw from the founders, this very sort of like, these are problems that we can solve.


We can get this done.

It’s actually not as complicated if we just, you know, put the right sort of engineering mindset to it.

And and that is what I think.

I mean by we’re kind of Twitter’s, you know, future looks like it’s recent past essentially, right?


Let’s move on to your second time line, which you called the weird.

Attic timeline.

What is this?

Second path forward look like under musk.

I think this is where Elon doesn’t get bored.


This is where he fixes some of those small things and then he decides that the easy things, the DMS.


Do, you know, the whatever the power user stuff.

And then he says, all right.

I’m going to try like anything and everything, right.

Twitter is a laboratory and I get to go and experiment with it.

And so, you know, I think there’s been talk about mean, what if His main ones that he’s been touting.


As recently as this afternoon is authenticating all humans on the platform, which is something like, you know, I guess blue check verification for the masses.

There’s a way in which this is like a really potentially exciting thing to, you know, make it so that, you know, there’s this sort of new level of understanding of who you’re interacting with on a social network.


Maybe that can push some boundaries, you know, it could be some weird Innovative approach.

Also, we’ve seen Facebook has tried to do this.

They had a real names policy that ended up being just a massive logistical headache for people who, you know, like people who transitioned people who, you know, changed their identities.


In numerous ways, people who wanted to identify in certain ways, and it just got super thorny and it became like, you know, kind of extend.

Like, it’s almost you have to create a government like service, right?

Like a DMV for Twitter.

Like know when I was little I thinking of Like a DMV for Twitter, like here’s your social security card and it’s an interesting idea.


It’s just important.

To also, point out that there’s lots of people whose identities are verified, who have been kicked off the platform because they were verified, but they were also dicks, right?

Like this is what happened to Donald Trump.

We know that Donald Trump was kicked off the platform because Donald Trump was verified as Donald Trump and then was kicked off for misinformation.


So it’s not, you’re not representing and maybe even Elon Musk wouldn’t represent this idea as being some kind of Panacea to abuse.

But it would, I mean, just if you’re inside the mind of Elon Musk, what’s the best argument for why?

This this tweak would be so beneficial to the informational culture of Twitter.


So one thing that I think he seems to be really obsessed with is this idea that there’s like a lot of fakery on the platform.

Like he’s really obsessed with the idea of how much spam there is and there is a lot of spam.

There’s a lot of spam on every Network.


It also including email.

Um, spam is just a problem of the Internet.

It’s also just a problem of like mail.

There’s a communication.

Basically, people will find a way to spam it, but he’s kind of obsessed with this.

So, one of his Again, part of this sort of secondary scenario is he wants to, you know, think about making all of Twitter’s Black Box algorithms open source right to make them public.


Allow people to look into them, allow them to copy them.

And again, this is really interesting in theory.

Although you know, when you come down to the main level, there’s lots of experts who are Are saying like the reason why a lot of platform algorithms are so, you know, protected is because they’re trying to keep them away from people like spammers who want to abuse them.


And so it’s very, you know, it’s one of these ways in which some of his thinking on this stuff seems to be very sort of shallow, very rudimentary that it’s kind of like he is he’s he’s looking at Twitter through the lens of Very unique, power user, someone who has 80 million followers and, you know, is constantly embroiled in culture or controversies all the time and, you know, potential SEC violations.


Like, that’s the way that Elon musk’s thinking about it and not thinking about it in the sense of like, you know, what are the unintended consequences of pulling, you know, X lever inside this massive machine that already exists.


That’s really interesting.

I mean, I, I see both sides of this.


I understand the Elon Musk.

Ask sort of right adjacent left adjacent libertarian.

Take that the way that liberalism works, the way that progress works is that you allow a wide wide variety of speech that competes in some kind of, don’t say Marketplace, because that’s such a hurry cliche.


But but that competes for attention, that competes for, for Pete, for the, for the votes of eyeballs and ears, and that it is healthy for a public discourse to have this really, really wide berth.

Of conversation that that ultimately is the best way to lead us toward the truth.


I get that.

I also think you were really perceptive to see that.

There is something in elon’s philosophy of free speech.

That thinks the problem is insincerity.

The problem is that we don’t know people’s identities.

The problem is botched.


The problem is rushing, disinformation with that overlooks, is that sincere people participating in the marketplace of attention can be awful.

They can be abusive.

They can be her a see, they can say things that are horrific lie, untrue, and that me.


And that we might not want to distribute with the same morality that we would something else, and those decisions are just so, so difficult.

And it goes back to one of the first things I said, which is that I think Elon Musk is, is really an engineering genius.

But I, but when you get into the nitty-gritty work of content, moderation, you are essentially deciding whether a you’re going to have no police force at all.


Like all of the weeds can Well, or if you are going to have a police force, you have to decide what the laws are, if decide like what is the truth that will allow?

What is the unknowns that will allow the uncertainties?

That will allow.

That is so hard.

Like the guy trying to go to Mars.

It’s also going to be spending hours of his day, trying to do the sort of like epistemic pruning of like what level of lie is too far to allow on the site.


I there’s a part of me.

That’s just like, I don’t want you working on these problems.

I think Twitter is like a fundamentally broken thing.

I I don’t want you working on this.

I want you building the car of the future and I want you building Rockets.

I don’t believe that you can fundamentally solve this.

It’s a terrible job to be the I don’t know if you want to be the CEO, but like the owner of Twitter, like, whatever it is.


I had a hard time, simply Twitter’s keeper.

This is what I’m calling him.

But like, I don’t, I it’s a bad job.

It is a job where a just like, everyone’s going to yell at you, which it seems, he likes, like, he kind of likes to be that guy, which is cool.

But, you know, I also think, We and this is like the cynical part of me and I think it’s relatively warranted with someone like him is that I think like what he really wants is the title so that the things that he does the actions, he takes both in his other like, you know other parts of his life and career, but also just like his ideological leanings, his musings about speech, or whatever.


It comes from like Elon Musk, Oh, of Twitter or whatever, right?

That it sort of gives a level of almost gives like a stamp of approval.

Like, it makes some of his ideologies Twitter’s ideologies to some degree.

And I think that there’s also like a delightful amount of chaos for him that comes with that, right?


Like he, he can say, rattle, whatever cages he wants to and it means it has a different weight to it.


Because a guy who makes Rockets has opinions about politics and whatever.

It’s like, okay, that’s important.

He’s the wealthiest man in the world, but guy who owns Massive platform.


Either where our politics arguably the most important most influential platform for speech in the world not to say it’s the most well-attended of the most the most subscribed to but you know, Ben Thompson trajectory newsletter author was on a previous podcast and he basically said this is the Twitter, is the straw that stirs?


The drink of news discourse that when you look at all sorts of phenomena, whether it’s degeorge Floyd protests or the Trump phenomenon, you can walk you you you you follow that that River.

Or through all of its tributaries, new CEO, the source of this of this gusher was Twitter, like you, this happens all the time.


It really is an unbelievably significant platform for our understanding of the world.

And I understand to a certain extent wanting to be like the impresario over it.

You the richest man in the world.

You think the free speech is important, here is the most important organ of the world for speed for free speech.


I want to be the king of that mountain.

I just II agree with you.

That’s really important.

I think to juxtapose like that ambition with Active.

It’s like the problems of that mountain are like unfixable.

Like they are just, they are rooted in just dark human nature and I don’t think that any any amount of engineering skills going to fix it.


One more point.

I wanted to ask you about before I move to your dystopian possible.

Narrative is how this changes musk’s relationship with Donald Trump.

So, first order level, is that a lot of people assume that Elon Musk will invite Donald Trump back on Twitter.


Now, that’s a really interesting thing because Trump might say yes, and it could work out fantastically for him because he would get back in the public conversation.

Way that he’s been semi absent for last 18 months, or Trump could come back and people could be reminded how terrible Trump is, how odious he is, how disgusting and it could remind moderates how much they hate like Trump and it could maybe nudge them a little bit back to where the Democratic party.


That might be just a little bit to a little bit too much opium.

But here’s another alternative in the Trump World.

What if Trump is invited back to Twitter?

But refuses because Trump has a Medias back truths.

Social, that is a competitor of Twitter and now, Elon Musk has made himself.


Trump’s business.


He might have created essentially a new rivalry Trump’s Medias back, versus Elon musk’s Twitter.

Such that if Elon Musk, you know, does continue to be the CEO of Twitter and Trump does continue to be the head of true social and even becomes president, that you could have this like showdown between Elon Musk in the white house, which is something that someone who relies on Will subsidies and relationships with NASA does not want.


So I laid out a bunch of scenarios, but my fundamental question, is this like do you wonder if musk might be soliciting a little bit too much political attention for making himself the head of Twitter, which isn’t a company that people across the political Spectrum, like to pay quite a lot of attention to.


I think this is.

It’s very, like, just just the question of what Donald Trump would do with a with an offer like that.

That I think that that is it’s incredibly fascinating because I can see him using that as a way to sort of Leverage more power, right to say, I don’t I don’t need this network.


I don’t need, I don’t need any of this.

In fact, it doesn’t really matter and it hasn’t mattered since I left, you know, Etc.

I think that that is really fascinating.

I think there’s also like you’re sort of dealing with two people who are incredible like attention gatherers and you know spectacle M and trolls in their own, right?


Who sort of like, I think both of them for for our I would argue worse for all of us.

Like, our kind of Gaming, all this stuff out in their heads, a little bit like an and it’s really important that neither gets played or seem to be getting played or deferential to the other.


You know, I want to be the Alpha and the situation, I could see a scenario where Elon Musk actually does like a very kind of open-ended thing.

That’s like if you’ve been banned, you can like petition your case to get back on and we will open it and hear it.

And that way he doesn’t have to sort of extend the Olive Branch but it’s kind of like puts the ball in other people’s courts to say, you know, this is this is something you could do if you want to and then we’ll kind of like legislate that it’s a little less of like an attention spectacle, but it makes him a little less of like Trump’s Lackey, right?


You can sort of, you know, leave it up to him.

So Trump doesn’t have to, you know, sort of reject him so to speak.

So that I think, that’s fascinating.

Yeah, there.

But there’s a bit little bit of a spider.

Pointing at Spider-Man situation going on, but to people that are just extraordinary masters of gathering attention essentially potentially squaring off to see who can be the attention Master.


It sort of reminds me a little bit.

I don’t know if they, if they overlapped in terms of their their peaks are necessarily had any famous moments interaction, but like, Thomas Edison versus PT Barnum.

Like Thomas Edison.

The inventor who’s also an incredible impresario versus PT Barnum, who is like, I’m all impresario.


It’s all surface level.

It’s all, it’s all tricks.

There’s, there’s no engineer.

The genius behind the behind the curtain, but that’s essentially what it could it what it could represent?

Except in this case, PT Barnum could is is running for potentially returning to the White House.


Returning to speaking of your final timeline, what I called the dystopian timeline, you have a different term for it or do you just call it the dark timeline?

What’s The Darkest Timeline here that were looking at The Darkest Timeline is the one, in which musk like really decides to like use this.


Just a plaything for like, a particularly vicious, you know, kind of ideology.

And some of that can be political right?

Some of that can be sort of.

I think he’s, I think he’s described like left leftists as suffering from like a brain disease or something.


It’s some kind of moniker.

It’s very clear.

He has like animus towards the sort of the social justice left.

So there’s a way in which he could sort of use this power and position to like actively punish that right or to a Elevate, you know, the most kind of chaotic, you know, parts of the platform like, you know, inviting Marjorie Taylor green to have sort of like an outsize, you know presence on Twitter.


Not only inviting these people back but sort of like, you know, really kind of trying to use those perches to extinguish things.

I see that as not really like the most plausible thing.

I also think he could sort of run this sort of like vengeful.


You know, quote-unquote vengeful strategy towards with an eye towards like business, right?

He could just be using this in ways to manipulate markets.

He could really try to go all in and kind of, you know, take take further aim at the SEC.


I, these are sort of, like I consider this to be a scenario that is not not incredibly plausible, because I think that like a A scenario where he runs this like as a pet project to sort of, you know, like Crush certain Democratic Tendencies.


I think you’d have massive push back from employees at Twitter, right?

And, and the public at large, but I think like one, one issue is like inside.

These large companies.

The chief executive is obviously the person, you know, and the owner who has a lot of control, but it’s also a very large company with A lot of people who build products and who have a say and at the end of the day, you do need engineering talent and the end of the day, there are lots of people who have sort of a kind of, I think, aggressive libertarian, sort of anti social justice mindset, but I’m not sure how many, if there’s enough of them to like staff, the engineering of a major technology platform, right?


Yeah, so, I don’t buy the, I don’t buy the darkest version of The Darkest Timeline, which is that and I’m so you’re putting it out there.

It’s just a sort of, you know, it’s a low percentage.

A probability.

I don’t buy the darkest fears in The Darkest Timeline, which is essentially that Elon Musk reveals himself to be the Joker and runs Twitter as if it’s Joker CEO, but I do think that there is a dark time line where a lot of radicals, especially I suppose on the right, who had been kicked off, Twitter are welcomed on with a lot of fanfare.


So, even if he’s not putting his thumb on the scale for Marjorie Taylor, green or putting his thumb on the scale for Donald.

Their return is celebrated in some way, right.

He he welcomes them back with it with a Tweety.

He tries to make it a big news story about what how musk’s Twitter is different from pre musk Twitter.


I think that is, I think that’s conceivable like, my pessimistic outlook for Twitter.

Basically comes down to to this.

Like, I don’t know what his plans for light touch content.

Moderation will look like, but like, he’s essentially going to be Running a social media site.


That’s like tending to a garden.

The size of Australia with alien weeds that are growing like one foot per second everywhere.

You look in the wrapping around you, as you walk around like the site just becomes disastrous.

It becomes sort of disastrous to use and mildly abusive and even if it doesn’t become like 2x 3x more abusive, I think an interesting thing to look out for is the fact that like, a lot of people are now very sensitive to the possibility.


Woody that extremism and abuse will increase in the platform.

And as a result.

I wonder if even if the level of extremity and abuse doesn’t increase, will hear more complaints about it because concerns will be made more Salient by musk’s taking over the platform.


And that too is going to like, raise our awareness of the darkest sides of Twitter.

The same way that certain scandals about Facebook often, like make us focus and the darker sides of Book, so I just see like this where the darker timeline being that the site becomes more chaotic more abusive a little bit more her a see, the certain voices that I don’t know, left moderate, like me doesn’t want to be surrounded by become unignorable and voices that I do, follow pay such close attention to ongoing abuse and harassment.


That those phenomena are made a more sort of constant part of my daily life.

That’s sort of what it looks like and I think too.

There’s a way in which like a reversion, right?

So like I think I think back to their like around again like say 2016 and and the time like the leading up that the months right before the 2016 election, when the deracinate was kind of, like we think harassment is bad on Twitter now and it obviously is for certain people at certain times.


But like when we look like I remember some of these like Anonymous trolls like on the right?

Like this guy, Ricky Vaughn, I think has been outed.

Has someone, but I can’t remember who, but like this guy was like a cereal like on his 200th, Twitter account, like high-volume harasser, like just like, you know photoshopping people into gas Chambers, you know, like just like horrible horrible stuff and and it kind of just like going unchecked, right?


Like they would take them off and then he just started new one.

Like they wouldn’t they didn’t try any sort of advanced, you know, things about that when when Twitter did kind of Really make strides to try to get some of these like serial abusers off the platform and in doing so made it slightly healthier place.


That like, I know means something to a lot of people and to sort of have that regress.

I think there’s a way in which some people like eat will feel really bad.

Like if you can if you watch this thing, truly degrade in a way, that’s not just like, oh man, I’m seeing more opinions.


I quote unquote don’t like I’m talking about seeing like a high hateful thoughts of not.

Yes, you know, on the platform stuff like that.

I think that that there’s a, it’s hard to come back from that.

Like that is when people actually, To say okay.

I don’t need like I don’t need to spend my time here and then it is dominated by the loudest worst, most obnoxious voices and the people who are trapped like the and then as you said the stuff you start to see you know, you feel I think you just start to see more of the worst stuff and less of the you know, the joyful the insightful interesting stuff even though it’ll still be there.


And so I think that there’s a way that that would be incredibly dispiriting to people in ways that they might not even realize.

Now it will just feel like this full term kind of regression.

That’s really interesting.

So it’s like as a matter of summing up.

I’m thinking about what you’re saying and I’m thinking about the piece that I just that just filed for the Atlantic.


I’m going to make a prediction and I’m just interested to know what you think about this prediction.

I think that if you and I do a podcast exactly one year from now, April, 20 23, and we reflect on our evaluation of the first year of musk’s tenure as keeper of Twitter if that’s your term.


I think the first line summary will be, there was more of just about everything.

There were more voices.

There were there is more hate.

There is a little bit more abuse and more harassment.

There was a little bit more diversity.


There was also more features.

There were more features that were useful to power users.

There was also just more news about Twitter.

It was impossible to stop thinking about it because the world’s richest man was The Keeper of the castle and that the outcome will be to some definitely dystopian to others a little bit better as a product and too many just like a chaotic cluster ship.


There’s just more Of everything.

How do you vaguely feel about that prediction?


So what I’ll tell you what, I like about that prediction, what I like about that prediction.

Is that the more He’s exactly the end goal of what he wants, right?


The more of all of that and including him being at the center of it.

And I really think that that, that is like there’s a good bet on that, right?

Because it means it’s playing to his ego means he’s like active in it.

It means he’s, you know, further unless you himself in our conversation everything.


So I think that part is, right.

I’m, you know, I’m hesitant to say that there’s going to be Lots of changes.

Like I think there’s going to be way more attention.

I just think that all this stuff, like all this stuff’s going to be on a long timeline, right?

Like it’s going to take time for the deal to, you know, to settle and to get fully approved and everything.


I think I saw some where I could be totally wrong on this that it was like on the order of like six months or something before.

Maybe he even takes hold.

It’s gonna be several months.



And at that point, like he’s not probably going to weigh in on what he’s going to do for that period of time.

So it’s gonna be this long period of being coy Oi and then I think too like I do think a side of, you know, maybe he’ll throw out an edit button really quickly, right?


Maybe he will do this reinstatement of certain accounts, but I think beyond that like if he’s actually serious about this stuff then it’s going to it’s going to be a while before we see the changes.

So I think like the actual experience of

The website is not going to change all that much.


I think you’re totally right that there’s going to be more the stakes of this entire conversation.

The stakes of our sort of you know, Political conversation or cultural conversation.

The whole town square, Vibe, speech issues as the intersect of all that Stakes have been raised by this for sure.


And so and and he has, you know, put himself in the center of that universe.

And I think that’s I think the more part of that is dead on Charlie was L.

Thank you very much.

Nice riding.

And that’s all from us for this instant reaction emergency.


A podcast will be back tomorrow with our usual episode.

Talk to you then.