The Culling 2022, Twitter edition

Tonight I deactivated my Twitter account. I have 30 days to change my mind, and then it goes away forever.


Casey Newton, in today’s edition of his Platformer newsletter, wrote the following:

…observing Elon Musk’s escalated attacks on a former employee and continued promotion of far-right ideas and personalities, over the weekend I found myself thinking: I just don’t want to be on Twitter anymore. 

It has all been bad, of course. From the moment Musk dragged that sink into Twitter headquarters, assured the assembled employees there that he wasn’t about to eliminate 75 percent of them, and soon did exactly that, Musk’s hostile takeover of the company has been ugly to behold.

Any acquisition is bound to cause turmoil in the lives of its employees, but Musk seemed to revel in it: laying off employees so indiscriminately that he was forced to beg many to return a day after terminating them; forcing a mostly remote workforce back into the office on a day’s notice; imposing impossible deadlines on those that remained; requiring workers to sign a digital loyalty oath promising to be “extremely hardcore”; putting workers through regular “code reviews” that have often served as a pretext for firing them; purging workers who were found to have been critical of him in Slack or on Twitter; installing beds in the office to encourage workers to sleep there.


More recently, he falsely stated that the company had “refused to take action on child exploitation for years” — an especially egregious statement given that he had just purged 80 percent of the company’s contract workforce, which included the majority of its content moderators. (We’ve reported that Twitter’s efforts here were indeed understaffed, but it’s not true that the company took no action.)

In recent days, Musk has increasingly advanced the narrative that Twitter was a den of corruption before he bought it. And over the weekend, he made his most disgusting smear to date. 

Here’s Dana Hull at Bloomberg:

Elon Musk posted tweets including an excerpt of Yoel Roth’s doctoral dissertation Saturday that suggested the former Twitter executive is an advocate for child sexualization — a baseless trope that leaves Roth susceptible to online abuse. […]

“Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his PhD thesis,” tweeted Musk, with an excerpt from the 300-page dissertation. “Gay Data,” the title of Roth’s 2016 dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania, is about Grindr, the geosocial networking service popular with the LGBTQ+ community.

To be clear, the dissertation is about how to keep predators away from children. But in an interview with Kara Swisher, Roth had dared to criticize Musk after resigning. And so this was his punishment: a smear pushed out to 121 million people, which led immediately to Roth being overwhelmed with death threats.

As if all of that weren’t terrible enough, Musk followed up by tweeting “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci” — a smooth-brained, Tucker Carlson-ass Mad Lib of a post that served to bolster the kind of anti-trans and anti-vaxx culture warriors that most people have absolutely no desire to hear from, ever. (Culture warriors who, I assume, made up a good number of the 60,000-plus accounts Musk recently returned to the platform after falsely saying he would first consult with a council of experts before doing so.) 

There’s more, but you get the point (Platformer is great if you enjoy reading about how social media is affecting our world. It can feel a bit like doomscrolling at times, but Newton writes good stuff).

It’s reached the point where Twitter–which I rarely used before, anyway–has gone from being worth watching in a “flaming train wreck” kind of way to where having an active account starts to make you feel at least a bit complicit in what Musk is doing. I’ll still see and hear about Twitter news, of course. It’s nearly inescapable if you read any sites, blogs or newsletters that cover social media, but I’ll be doing it as someone on the outside, looking in, not as someone participating directly in the hellscape Musk is making.

The best Twitter/Titanic comparison

I use Twitter very little, so its possible demise is not something I would lament on a personal level, though I realize it has immense value for some communities.

Elon Musk’s so-far disastrous stewardship of the social media platform has produced many metaphors, but I think this one from the comments on an Ars Technica article might be my favourite because it encapsulates the absurdity of so much of what Musk has done, and his so-far unerring ability to then make tihngs even worse.

Another “No need to read anything but the headline” story, Twitter edition

Elon Musk is buying Twitter. Engadget uses the ultimate Dorsey photo for its story on Dorsey’s endorsement of the move. I mean, come on. I’m not saying I object, but this is “shooting fish in a barrel” territory. Tie-dyed hippie fish.

Engadget story: Jack Dorsey on Musk’s Twitter takeover: ‘Elon is the singular solution I trust’

I have heard Twitter described many ways, but “light of consciousness” was not one of them. I picture someone shining a flashlight up someone’s butt.

It’s been over ten years since my first tweet

This is not a momentous occasion or anything. Twitter is one of the social media sites that can be both a dumpster fire and pretty useful simultaneously. Looking over my history, it’s clear I’ve been content to be an observer.

As an observer, I still find people posting screenshots of walls of text composed elsewhere to get around the 280-character limit of Twitter to be weird.

Here’s that first tweet. While I still like the quote, I would not exactly jump at the chance to quote Woody Allen these days. I probably should have known better in 2011, really.

Look at that sad, empty heart! No wonder the kitten looks so bereft. (If I change from the kitten avatar in the future, please apply this to whatever is in its place).

Thinking about it now, I have no recollection at all what my last tweet was. Let’s find out!

It turns out that was my only original tweet. Every other tweet was a reply to someone else and amounts to 12 total. Eight were to Nike Support, which forces you to use Twitter, the other four were inane responses to friends. A captivating Twitter Time Capsule, this is not.

Oh, and Twitter

I have a Twitter account. While I am a bit befuddled about Facebook, I have absolutely no idea why I would use Twitter. The most posts I made with my account was when I had to use Twitter for Nike tech support. I guess they figure every issue can be described in 140 characters or less. As for solutions, “Did you reboot?” is only 13 (I’m not sure if Twitter counts spaces) so no problem there.

The best uses for Twitter seem to be as a quasi-Facebook with fewer words, an efficient tool for online harassment and as a way to communicate if your country is in the midst of a revolution/war. I can just make short posts on Facebook, online harassment is bad and people should stop it, and my country is currently not experiencing a revolution, unless you count Tim Hortons being sold to an American company.

And yet I will keep my account, because maybe one day there will be a “random Twitter account is awarded a million dollars” contest or something. A million dollars is a lot of money, even in Canadian.