It was an announcement that shocked the world of new technologies: Elon Musk, the emblematic and controversial head of Tesla, bought the Twitter platform on October 28 for around 44 billion dollars. The billionaire, known for his tweets capable of collapsing the price of bitcoin and his eccentricities, has multiplied the blows in recent days, causing the worst to be feared among platform users. Even Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey expressed his regret over the platform’s acquisition. “I realize a lot of people are mad at me,” he tweeted a few days ago.
Elon Musk has kicked the anthill, specifically through a massive layoff plan that would affect “around 50%” of his 7,500 employees. Last Friday, the platform’s offices were closed and thousands of people were notified by email of their dismissal. For other employees, the impact was even more severe: some found, sometimes in the middle of the night, that access to their laptop or mailbox was impossible. The hashtags #LoveWhereYouWorked or #OneTeam flourished on Twitter, where former employees expressed their sadness and concern for the future of the social network.
A freedom of expression with variable geometry
Dissolution of the company’s board of directors, dismissal of the CEO of Twitter and some other high officials… In addition to the massive layoffs operated by Elon Musk, the billionaire hastened to set up his new projects for the platform. Among them, the relaxation of the moderation rules of the social network, with the aim of facilitating “freedom of expression”. Whoever promised the creation of a moderation council has so far not changed anything in Twitter’s current moderation policies. However, according to a study by Montclair State University, hate speech would have increased dramatically after Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform. To many observers, Musk’s speech on free speech seems to shift quite a bit depending on his interests: for example, he announced to ban parody accounts that don’t identify themselves as such… While blocking parody accounts with a vengeance that affected him.
Another point of contention for the new boss of Twitter: his desire to become certified on the paid platform, for up to 8 dollars a month. A way to make it less dependent on advertisers and to guarantee more authenticity on the social network. In addition, this certification would allow those who obtain it to post longer videos and see fewer ads. An announcement that did not please many users, including bestselling author Stephen King, who tweeted: “$20 a month to keep my certification? Fuck them, they should pay me! “. According to various sources within the company, the set-up of the social network should come in the next few days, at the cost of exhausted employees, who sometimes work up to 12 hours a day to keep up with the pace imposed by their new boss.
Mastodon, Bluesky: the exile of users to other platforms
On Twitter, the events of the last few days have created a wave of panic among many Internet users. And some have announced that they want to migrate to other platforms. Among them, Mastodon and Bluesky, which offer the same functions as Twitter. Mastodon, which would now have more than 670,000 subscribers according to The Guardian, would gain thousands of users every day. The platform founded in 2016 by the German Eugen Rochko allows you to post 500-character messages, photos and videos. The only difference: in Mastodon, you have to choose your server to register your profile there, in a decentralized way. However, according to several observers, the exile of netizens to Mastodon is not assured, the German network may not have the shoulders to replace the blue bird. And above all, many Internet users have admitted to find its operation quite complex.
Other alternatives to Twitter include Bluesky, a platform launched in 2019 by former Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Available only for now in beta, the network has seen thousands of signups on its waiting list since the announcement of Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Bluesky is also a decentralized social network, more designed for developers and other computer enthusiasts. In short, a much less intuitive platform than its historical competitor. There remains the return to certain historical networks: many Internet users have referred to the reliability of the forums of yesteryear, or to networks such as Tumblr, Reddit or Discord… What if the internet of the future rested on the internet of before?