Science fiction predicts the future well, and sometimes science fiction inspires the future. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter could be torn from the page of one of these stories. The suggestion that this $44 billion decision was to remove accounts tracking his private plane after the owners rejected the $50,000 offer seems somewhat less convincing.
Where Twitter is with Musk is already emerging. His eagerness to add an ‘edit’ button may sound commendable, but this addition will change the core of Twitter’s values. Being able to edit tweets makes Twitter so unstable that it’s no longer a social media record. Each Tweet is volatile and may change unpredictably at any time. Traditional media outlets will be less inclined to embed Tweets into their online stories (as is now common practice) and will be more willing to seek out other competing sources.
Journalists and academics will be less inclined to cite Twitter as there may be no future evidence of this underlying data. The impact is significant and Musk will have to carve out a new purpose for Twitter if this change continues. Musk is a new era for Twitter, but like all good science fiction, it will be a chaotic mix of utopia and dystopia.
“At this point, my Twitter is almost completely nonsense,” Musk tweeted three years ago. A tweet from Musk two years ago succeeded in cutting significant value in his Tesla company. More recent tweets have boosted individual cryptocurrencies and revealed Musk’s sometimes chaotic political views and obsession with space travel.