Elon Musk took over Twitter, where I was shadowbanned and later outright banned years ago, and expectations rose that he might do the obvious: restore the Old Internet by making Twitter at least free speech oriented so that people could discuss things of actual importance instead of merely repeating Left-wing talking points.
With nothing to lose, I filed an appeal of the ban, and the next morning this arrived:
We’re writing to let you know that your account is now unlocked. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.
A little background: We have systems that find and remove automated spam Twitter accounts, and it looks like yours was flagged as spam by mistake. This can happen if an account exhibits automated behavior in violation of our rules.
We apologize for the mixup, and hope to see back on Twitter soon.
Naturally this seeming turnaround catches one by surprise. The Left-wing propaganda caucus that ruled the site has been at least temporarily dethroned, and normal life is returning. While this allows an unfortunate but predictable — what you ban you make valuable contraband — small explosion in racial slurs, it also makes the platform usable again.
In this we can see what Musk has done. Like Trump, he specializes in taking properties that are in disrepair and, by refusing to continue to do what got them to that state, making them more valuable. His talent lies in seeing past what “everyone agrees” is the right way to do things, and making properties functional instead.
Social media is in lock-step about censorship. All of them feel that any dissident speech which reveals that our current system is not doing so well will lead to society unraveling, so they hire large staffs of people who do nothing but flag and remove content.
Mostly this exists to suppress criticism of diversity, which is working as well here as it has in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Tigray, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda. Diversity creates culture war as each group fights to preserve its culture through dominance, creating a permanent race war, which is why Leftists like it.
A society in conditions of permanent race war will never stop to think that it should stop doing what “everyone agrees” is good. It is too busy trying to micromanage and put out little fires while keeping a steady stream of happy propaganda in order to gaslight normies into thinking that things are not obviously failing but ironically succeeding.
Musk has seized the most useful property in social media. Twitter is a cross between group SMS and those sites where you post press releases. It is good for real-time news and coordinating on trends and events. Although the interface is kludgy, it works well enough that unless driven away, a lot of people will use it.
The other week when there was smoke and helicopters in the air, I turned to Twitter. The police post updates there. The news outlets post one-liners before they can get stories ready. Citizens report back and tag their area. It is easy to figure out what is going on without having to turn to slower search engines and news sites.
While Facebook continues to self-destruct by trying to become a second Second Life, showing that no one in Big Tech has had any new ideas since 1996, Reddit wallows in low self-esteem basement nerds validating each others’ poor life decisions, Pinterest has become a catalog, and Instagram is eaten by influencers, Twitter remains relevant.
It should not be praised much. We might see it as basically a web-based version of IRC made simple for people without the technical ability to use command-line interface style settings. It is not new ideas; it is however a convenient form for the new web, and it remains useful.
As the rest of social media goes down the path of cutting out content, Musk has found a way to add content. Twitter will rise in time over these other sites. It will most likely become the last one standing since social media is based on network effects, and if “everyone” is on Twitter, everyone will go there.
He just made the site more valuable by eliminating the role in which apparently three-quarters of its staff labor. Without the censorship load, the site can be run by a few dozen engineers and a moderate support staff, kicking up its profits.
Even more, he has forced Twitter out of the advertising model. Advertisers fear free speech because they do not want their corporate logo next to 4chan-style language, pornography, or even just idiotic normie ramblings. Musk will make people pay to use Twitter or at least pay for its advanced features.
In the end, this will triumph. Free social media that censors will make advertisers happy until those corporations realize that the audience ran off to Twitter. They will go to Twitter and astroturf campaigns for themselves like they used to do on radio even before the payola scandals of the 1970s.
Of course, Musk could roll it back and go to the bad old days. After all, Twitter is already a market leader and his competition are self-destructing. But if we are lucky he will not, because patently offensive free speech forces people to grow up and accept the responsibility for their own emotions.