IS this really the end for Twitter?

Since Elon Musk took control of the platform in late 2022, most have viewed the social media giant as a doomed enterprise, one that could not survive ad infinitum as the plaything of a hyper-wealthy egomaniac.

Musk, a prolific user of the platform before purchasing it for a sum roughly equal to the GDP of Paraguay, already had a reputation for behaving like a childish edge-lord long before he’d even floated the idea of buying it.

Along with his record of undelivered promises and libertarian-style politics, his online persona did little to convince Twitter users that what would follow would be anything other than the equivalent of a self-driving Tesla vehicle slamming on the brakes at 100 mph just for the craic.

And we weren’t wrong.

Yet despite losing significant numbers of experienced staff thanks to Musk’s “hardcore mode” approach to doing business, Twitter has managed to drag itself through endless technical failures and ill-considered monetisation schemes to become what it is today – a buggy, bot-ridden mess of a platform where far-right white supremacists are free to broadly act as they please.

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I don’t think even Musk’s biggest fans could put hand to heart and say the platform isn’t now objectively worse than on the day it was sold.

The new Twitter Blue initiative alone is a platform killer, a half-baked enterprise that prioritises the content of accounts so unpopular they have to pay to make people read them.

Still, the nature of giants is that they tend to linger on.

Elon Musk may prove that wealth doesn't equate to competence 

There was certainly a time where Facebook’s monolithic integration into near every website made it feel oppressively ubiquitous and dangerously close to becoming a necessary ticket to participation in the digital world.

Now long diminished, it will likely scrape on until the user base becomes so small that it goes with a whimper. Or maybe, in a real turn up for the books, it’ll be bought over by Bebo.

Twitter, however, may end up collapsing under the weight of its ownership long before it even has the chance to age out of relevancy.

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And if it does, it’ll become another marker of a period of time in which enough people were hoodwinked by so-called disruptors that, in their sincere excitement for a future that could not be delivered on by its chosen messiahs, they missed all the indicators that screamed “these people don’t have a clue what they are doing – even if they do have enough money to keep on doing it”.

I believe this to be a defining narrative of our time – that moment when it became collectively clear that wealth was not equatable to competence.

A path littered with miracle machines that could tell you everything from a single drop of blood, and the debris of fibreglass submarines and their respective owners who thought safety regulations were a barrier to progress.

Musk et al have convinced themselves they represent a bright, new future – but in reality they represent the worst of the past. They have no regard for the welfare of workers, the most excessive extraction of wealth from those who produce it, and a desire to control the information and platforms that have helped organise workers and revolutionaries alike.

I shudder to think what an off-planet society lauded by the likes of Musk would look like.

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With this latest breakdown, we see a limitation in the information we can even get through the platform – and that might be the thing that really does end it all for Twitter.

Its core function, after all, is to let people share short thoughts and respond in like to others. This latest technical misadventure of the site undermines even that, with limitations being set in place over how many social posts you are even allowed to see on any given day.

Suffice to say, it might not be the return of extremist accounts that had been banned, or the rampant bots that will be the platform’s downfall, but rather the realisation amongst brands and advertisers that they are about to be severely limited in their reach because of these new limitations and the site’s instability.

And should Musk circumvent that by prioritising ads over content… well, what then is even the point of using the platform?

It would be a genuine shame to see Twitter go.

As a tool for organising the independence movement in the past, and for contemporary information-sharing around other issues, it has been exceptional. It has been great, as much as it has also been a hellscape over the years.

The collapse of Twitter would only serve as another reminder of how careless the rich can be when their fragile egos are at stake.