Elon Musk Won’t Fix Twitter’s Main Problem
An essay in the form of a Tweet thread.
Elon Musk says he wants to make Twitter a platform “where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.” Even if he was sincere, he lacks that power. People self-segregate in their own silos, afraid of different beliefs and healthy debate.
The Siloization of Humanity - Technology has enhanced an age old habit
Siloization - ˈsī-lō-ə-ˈzā-shən : the process of isolating a group apart from others especially in ways that hinder…
People are understandably concerned about what Elon Musk will do to Twitter. I doubt that anything substantial will change. Sure, there will be new money-making gimmicks, but the fundamental realities will remain.
For all of Musk’s talk about the need for free speech, Twitter has never suffered from a lack of free speech. Fundamentally, Twitter is a glossy free-for-all BBS on which anyone can say anything. There are no pre-post restrictions.
The problem with Twitter isn’t a lack of free speech but a lack of free dialogue. Twitter provides a BBS not a place to have a conversation. Twitter was not designed to be a place for people to converse, it is designed to be a place to spout off.
Twitter is actually worse than a BBS. It allows only short statements and memes. It does not offer topical discussion groups or threads. It does not make it easy to have discussion beyond a one-on-one exchange. Posts almost immediately disappear into the ether.
The one advantage of Twitter is that it is a public BBS. It is not a private invite-only server. It takes some effort on Twitter, but you can overcome the algorithms and find new people and new ideas. Only very short ideas of course.
There are rumors that Musk may take away that one advantage and start charging people to enter closed Mastodon-like servers or subscription-only Substack-like newsletters. That would lead to less free speech and still not address the lack of free dialogue.
It’s about money and ego not free speech. Twitter already caters to the tendency of most people to close themselves off from new people and new ideas. People hide in their echo chambers afraid to step outside their silos.
Will Musk just provide more silos that suppress free dialogue? Would people instead pay for a platform “where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner?” We probably won’t be given a chance to find out.