2022, the (most) terrible year for Twitter
Elon Musk has done it again. First he suspended the Twitter accounts of several journalists for publishing information about his private jet. After the United Nations and the European Union were critical of this action, Elon asked his followers in a poll what he should do about it. In a show of pseudo-democratic magnanimity, he decided to follow the results of the poll and restored the accounts of those suspended.
But it doesn’t stop there. There is deep concern about the damage that the decisions of Twitter’s new owner may cause to freedom of expression. Remember that not long ago he decided to restore Donald Trump’s suspended account, even though he later decided not to rejoin the network. And this is just one of Musk’s many missteps. What is he playing at? For Musk, Twitter is just a toy. A very expensive toy, but a toy nonetheless.
Few of us could have imagined at the beginning of this year that such a different and attractive social network would end 2022 like this. It has been an “annus terribilis” for the little bird network. To sum up this journey in a tweetable sentence (i.e. less than 280 characters… for now) we could say:
“Elon likes Twitter a lot. Twitter doesn’t do what Elon wants. Elon says he’s buying Twitter. Elon looks at the data and regrets it. Elon sees it’s too late for it. Elon buys it. Elon fires workers. Elon blocks journalists. Elon unblocks journalists.”
A bit of history
What really set Twitter apart from other social networks was its authenticity and immediacy. This led politicians and journalists to adopt it as a medium and source of information very quickly. The platform founded by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Noah Glass and Biz Stone in 2006 became in a few years the most used means of communication by citizens in the face of catastrophes, sporting events, scandals and all kinds of news.
The media themselves embraced this network as a means of contact and interaction with their audiences. Twitter trends became the object of desire and the way to measure the success of communication agencies’ strategies. Millions of users tweeting their emotions in messages of 140 characters (which later became 280) while watching football matches, TV series, elections, TV quizzes or even the news on the TV.
It soon ceased to be a ghetto for “connoisseurs” and geeks. Users realised that it was a perfect communication channel to make their grievances and hatreds known to the world. Hiding behind the anonymity of a nickname, they found themselves able to tell millions of people (potentially) what they were unable to tell anyone to their face. And so it became the network of haters. The place where everyone goes to vent, to poison and defame without mercy.
More than a few celebrities have decided to close their Twitter accounts because they feel incapable of dealing with such an avalanche of criticism, insults and reproaches. Some have even confessed to having needed psychological help to assimilate and digest so much malice towards themselves. And now many more are closing their accounts because they do not agree with Musk’s decisions.
I confess that I am one of those users who have been in love with Twitter from the very first moment. I opened my account in 2008 and I use it almost every day to get information, research topics that interest me and, why not say it, have a few laughs. I accept with sportiness not being able to edit tweets (although more than once I would have paid for it).
But now it looks like we’ll have to start looking for a replacement. We’ve already talked about Mastodon in Canela Insights, so maybe we should start thinking about packing up everything to make a change.
Finally, I have to admit that I liked Elon until he decided to change the rules of the game. One can only hope that he follows his own rules of the game and actually follows the decision of his followers to resign as head of Twitter. Grow up, Elon!
At Canela we are experts in social media, and also in Twitter. If you want to develop a successful digital strategy aligned with your business objectives, we can help you, contact us.
Arantxa Aguilera is Directora of B2B, Corporate & Digital at Canela.