The big story last month was Elon and Twitter. It wasn’t clear if the story was Elon buying Twitter or trolling it, but it consumed a lot of headlines. This month, the saga continues. It seems that Mr. Musk wants out. A motivating factor has to be if he can still afford it. TSLA stock hasn’t done well recently - possibly because of its CEO’s propensity to be distracted.
It seems everyone has an opinion on Elon and Twitter’s future — including me. I will start with the widespread consensus that Twitter could be better. Considering Twitter seems to work well for Elon and it worked well for Trump (and perhaps will work well again for Trump). How or why does Twitter need to be better?
Improving Twitter has lots of interpretations. Certainly, there are ways to make it more profitable. There are some fascinating discussions on how Twitter can foster or stifle free speech. Elon hasn’t indicated his vision for Twitter or exactly what he might do to make it better. It may not matter. Elon will change Twitter in unknown ways. He does seem talented at running companies, but then again he doesn’t intend to run Twitter.
I hate to sound like an old man (get off my lawn), but Twitter actually works pretty well. Twitter didn’t get caught up in all the Facebook hate regarding abusive user surveillance and manipulation. It may have a bot problem, but that’s not my problem.
That said, if Elon must improve it, I do have a suggestion: Focus on messaging. Twitter is mostly associated with its one-to-many sharing core feature. Messaging apps are incredibly useful and popular, and there’s still room to differentiate.
Twitter’s default DM feature requires that both parties follow each other. I would love to see Twitter become more useful as a messaging app by making its DMs searchable, encrypted, and better at managing. Maybe even add support for read receipts and typing indicators.
Twitter is unique in its being best for people you don’t know. For other platforms, knowing your connections is a rule or requirement. Facebook and LinkedIn are really about people you know (or knew in junior high). I am pretty quick with my follow-backs (which enable DMs), but I am also quick to unfollow anyone who spams me.
I do share concerns that Twitter is too powerful to be owned by such an attention-seeking egomaniac. The fact that he is a vindictive genius makes it even more troublesome. I am generally concerned about the privatization of the internet, which has done very well under a distributed, decentralized model. An emerging model with even more decentralization and zero trust is on the horizon.