It was an announcement that sent shockwaves through the world of new technologies: Elon Musk, the emblematic and controversial boss of Tesla, bought the Twitter platform on October 28 for about 44 billion dollars. The billionaire, known for his tweets capable of collapsing the price of bitcoin and his eccentricities, has multiplied the blows in recent days, raising fears for the worst among users of the platform. Even Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey expressed regret over the platform’s takeover. “I realize a lot of people are mad at me,” he tweeted a few days ago.
Elon Musk has kicked the anthill, notably through a massive layoff plan that would affect “about 50%” of its 7,500 employees. Last Friday, the platform’s offices were closed and thousands of people were notified by email of their layoffs. For other employees, the shock was even more severe: Some discovered, sometimes in the middle of the night, that access to their laptop or their mailbox was impossible. The hashtags #LoveWhereYouWorked or #OneTeam flourished on Twitter, with former employees expressing their sadness and concern for the future of the social network.
A freedom of expression with variable geometry
Dissolution of the company’s board, dismissal of Twitter’s CEO and a few other high-ranking officials… In addition to the massive layoffs driven by Elon Musk, the billionaire rushed to create his new projects for the platform. Among them the relaxation of the moderation rules of the social network with the aim of facilitating “freedom of expression”. Whoever promised the creation of a moderation board has so far changed nothing in Twitter’s current moderation policy. But according to a study from Montclair State University, hate speech would have increased dramatically after Elon Musk took over the platform. To many observers, Musk’s talk of free speech seems rather shifty in relation to his interests: for example, he announced banning parody accounts that were not identified as such… While blocking parody accounts with a vengeance on him.
Another point of contention for the new head of Twitter: his desire to make certification on the paid platform, up to 8 dollars a month. A way in which he can be less dependent on advertisers and guarantee more authenticity on the social network. In addition, this certification will allow those who achieve it to publish longer videos and watch fewer ads. An announcement that did not please many users, including bestselling author Stephen King, who tweeted: “20 dollars a month to keep my certification? Fuck them, they should pay me!”. According to multiple sources within the company, the overhaul of the social network should come in the coming days, at the expense of exhausted employees who sometimes work up to 12 hours a day to keep up with the pace imposed by their new boss .
Mastodon, Bluesky: exile of users to other platforms
On Twitter, the events of the past few days have created a wave of panic among many internet users. And some have announced that they want to migrate to other platforms. Among them Mastodon and Bluesky, which offer the same functions as Twitter. Mastodon, which would now have more than 670,000 subscribers according to the Guardian, would gain thousands of users every day. The platform founded in 2016 by the German Eugen Rochko allows you to publish messages of 500 characters, photos and videos. The only difference: on Mastodon you have to choose your server to register your profile there, in a decentralized way. According to several observers, however, the exile of internet users to Mastodon is not guaranteed, the German network may not have the shoulders to replace the blue bird. And above all, many Internet users have admitted that they find the operation quite complex.
Other alternatives to Twitter include Bluesky, a platform launched in 2019 by former Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. The network is only available for now in beta, and has seen thousands of registrations on its waiting list since the announcement of the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk. Bluesky is also a decentralized social network, more designed for developers and other computer enthusiasts. In short, a much less intuitive platform than its historical competitor. There is still a return to certain historical networks: many Internet users have referred to the reliability of the forums of the past, or to networks such as Tumblr, Reddit or Discord… And if the Internet of the future rested on the Internet of the past?