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Voting with your tweet can hold Musk to account



Elon Musk and two of his controversial tweets. (Wikipedia/Source	https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/50280652497/ Author	Steve Jurvetson/(CC BY 2.0))
Elon Musk and two of his controversial tweets. (Wikipedia/Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/50280652497/ Author Steve Jurvetson/(CC BY 2.0))

As a serial tweeter, deactivating my account was a reluctant but necessary move, because it’s the only thing that can really stick to Elon Musk.


The irony of sitting at my desk writing this, is I would usually then use Twitter to plug the piece, but alas, I like many others, no longer feel comfortable on the social media site.


Elon Musk is now running Twitter with ad-hoc decisions based on straw polls and impulsive judgments, claiming an unbound commitment to free speech is driving the changes.


The problem is, he’s turning Twitter into a free-for-all, allowing people back onto the site who have a history of sharing hateful messages and inciting violence.


From the moment Musk took over, the impact on advertisers was a big focus, and that’s why Twitter users who disagree with the direction have only one real course of action: to leave.


While I will almost certainly re-activate my account at some point in the future, I can’t help but feel if enough people leave, even temporarily, it can have a real impact on Musk’s way of thinking.


He has already stalled on various pledges, including his $8 verification roll-out which was first lowered from a much higher price, then delayed, and now will take the form of different colour ticks for different types of users.


This week it was announced that more than a third of Twitter’s top 100 marketers have not advertised on the Elon Musk site in the last two weeks, according to analysis from the Washington Post.


The fact is, advertisers want to spend money where there are eyeballs. What Musk is doing, is shaking up the status quo, and at least in the short term, it is disruptive and some of the decisions are not the best.


Allowing back Donald Trump is a terrible idea. Reinstating Kanye West, is also a terrible idea. Who next? Katie Hopkins? Maybe some other far-right or neo-Nazi accounts which have been kicked off in the past for good reason?


Earlier in the week, Musk tweeted out a poll saying: “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?”


More than 3m people voted, and 72 per cent said they agreed there should be an amnesty.


The problem is, Donald Trump has already has his account reinstated, and he is accused of breaking the law.


And anyway, what law? Twitter isn’t a country. Twitter spans the whole world. What if someone is a Holocaust denier, would they be allowed to tweet in Germany?


Musk said “The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week”, but at no stage is there any kind of accountability for who voted in this poll. What if spam accounts voted, with a view to reinstating harmful actors on the Twittersphere.


This approach to change on Twitter, is fundamentally driven by populism and chaos. Polls, memes and gifs is no way to run the organ of information in the 21st century.


I won’t be joining ‘Mastodon’, because it’s rubbish. But hopefully enough people will vote with their feet and log off, to put pressure on Musk through advertisers abandoning him.


As Elon would say, “the people have spoken.”

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