For all intents and purposes, Twitter is dead. Oh, sure, something calling itself “Twitter” still lives and breathes. It’s Jason from the Halloween movies – but less charming. I don’t think Elon Musk’s purpose today – his intentions for Twitter – are the same ones with which he started. Elon’s Twitter escapade began as an expensive, ego-driven brain fart. But, Elon has powerful friends – Peter Thiel and Vlad Putin come to mind. They don’t want him to fail. None of them liked Twitter’s core function – as an information crossroads. The free flow of information terrifies them, in fact. Would it surprise anyone if they influenced Elon’s thinking? Elon may have entered Twitter’s office carrying a sink but, really, he held a sledgehammer in his hands. I contend he did us a favor taking that sledgehammer to his $44 billion bauble. He turned the world’s attention to Mastodon. Long live Mastodon!
The joke will end up being on Elon and his rich, corrupt pals however. Twitter-the-public-square is indeed dead. But the desire for a public square like Twitter won’t go away. The core idea behind Twitter – the public square – fills an essential void. Content creators and content consumers get to share a common space where the creators create while consumers consume. Everybody’s happy.
Private ownership of that space perverts it. Ownership of any kind perverts it. Especially if the first thing ownership does is decide whose creations get seen and whose don’t. No one owns Mastodon because no one can own the fediverse. And, because no one owns the fediverse, there’s no algorithm.
The whole point of the algorithm is to measure us, quantify us and sell us. The reason Twitter and Facebook and Instagram cost nothing to use is because we’re the product. Our data and purchasing power. I wasn’t alone feeling throttled on Twitter. Plenty of us tweeted about it regularly. Try as we might, our content couldn’t get traction. There was a reason and it had nothing to do with us.
In the fediverse, each of us is our own algorithm. That’s what makes Mastodon remarkable as a social media experience. Aside from the local feed coming from our home server, we decide whose content we see. In just a week, I’ve created a fantastic community. Part of it is my old Twitter peeps. But, more and more of my Mastodon community are people I hadn’t met before migrating here. I’ve met a ton of people who love movies, horror movies, writing and even moss. Mastodon is hashtag driven. Figure out how to hashtag effectively and the world’s your hashtagged oyster. Really and truly – long live Mastodon!
Why did Elon do this? Why did he destroy the world’s greatest ever information crossroads? At hose behest? Who will benefit?
I don’t think Elon gives a toss about We The People unless he’s selling us something.
Mastodon is Social Media’s Future
Elon bludgeoning Twitter has been big news. The news media itself discovering Mastodon and migrating there doesn’t add up to a story apparently. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Our news media still doesn’t know how to cover Donald Trump. Rich guys befuddle our news media.
Mastodon has no one hyping it other than its users. That’s because no one owns it and no one can. That fact alone makes Mastodon worth considering. It is the future of social media in the here and now.
I suggest everyone explore Mastodon. It’s got its quirks. But, once you grasp how the fediverse works – and that it’s about content and nothing but (okay, it’s about relationships, too) – all other algorithm-ed social media seems false.
Elon Musk did us all a giant favor by buying and then gutting his $44 billion bauble. Don’t cry for Elon. He’ll simply convert Twitter from being an expensive failure (as a social media app) into a success as a money transfer device for crypto. But, Elon’s ownership tenure at Twitter taught us a ton. For starters, a public square app like Twitter can’t be a profit-driven enterprise.
We need to think of public square apps as utilities – like the power companies. They serve the public good and should be part of the public domain. Like Health CARE. Or Corrections. Or the military.
The public square is finally where it belongs: in the public’s hands. Twitter is dead. Long live Mastodon!