Last week, I abruptly deleted all of my tweets (again) and likes and locked my Twitter account. I’ve been on the app since it launched and am one of the first thousand people to receive verification. Somewhere in the Twitter doldrums is a photo of my old drivers license, which used to be the process to become verified. And because of my role in a global marketing agency working with Fortune 500 brands, they verified me fairly quickly.
To say that I’ve invested in Twitter — financially as an advertiser and investor and through usage — is an understatement; from January 2007 to last week I’ve poured in roughly a million original tweets with monthly reach hovering around and above one million impressions. Twitter was my main social media outpost, the place where I could connect, follow and engage with people to have great discussions.
Over time, however, the app has devolved into a hate filled propaganda machine with poorly targeted ads. Insert the social media meme about people arguing because your opinion doesn’t match theirs or excludes other options. It got extremely tiring during the 2016 and 2020 elections, however knowing the likely outcome it was at least a dunk-fest for the latter on some of the 2016 folks. But therein lies the problem – instead of talking ideas and having conversations, the app became all about trying to dunk on someone. And it turns out I’m the Dominique Wilkins of it with Puerto Rico’s corrupt politicians and grew my following from it. But even being good at something terrible eventually gets old.
Enter Elon Musk.
I considered quitting the app long before he bought it but his circus and antics — perpetually posting controversial nonsense to keep people arguing and most recently banning journalists who’ve been critical of him or his companies — got really old, really fast. In a Twitter Spaces with journalists, Elon joined the chat and abruptly left once he got pressed on a question before shutting down Spaces. However, if you listen to his own words, journalists are no longer treated as special on his app. Enter Twitter Blue, where anyone with a credit or debit card can purchase verification for $8 or $11 a month, depending if you’re using an iOS product. Now he’s letting anyone with a OneVanilla card block or mute journalists so their content is downvoted. This app being used as a source of actual news and information is dead, it has fully devolved into Paid Truth Social.
This is not the Twitter I signed up for, and it’s clear that this acquisition and burning to the ground were done to lessen the influence of reporters and democratize the app’s social function as a user play for what he’s transforming the app into.
Instead of a place where people who have actual influence in real life are driving news, ideas and conversations, Elon wants to make it into a Western version of WeChat, where users can do everything from buy movie tickets to privately message friends to somehow use it for social media. And in the interim, he needs users and drama for attention. By throwing legitimate journalists off the app and allowing bad actors, bots and psychopaths who had been previously banned back onto the app he’s lost the cache and influence the app once had and the rise of Mastodon, Post and a myriad of other apps will relegate the app to be his manipulative freak show. That’s not the Twitter I signed up for and I don’t have any interest in continuing to contribute to it or allowing him to monetize my content via ad impressions.
Where am I now? I signed up for Mastodon and am awaiting Christopher Bouzy’s Spoutible beta. If you’re part of Pistons Twitter, I usually join Playback to watch games with Ku and Bryce commentating. I’m on other social networks (FB, IG, LinkedIn) too and will continue with my podcast. Not ironically, some people who I’ve met IRL and virtually through Twitter have come over to those platforms as well to stay in touch.
Elon’s vision is to turn Twitter into something that will fail or succeed. We’ll see — I just won’t be participating anymore.