Pain has gone viral due to Twitter chaos. Let’s hope a virtual Band-Aid emerges.
For all its faults, Twitter could reasonably claim to be a global town square. Now it is more of the world’s Gordian knot.
For Twitter to get back on its bird feet, the company needs to tweet its users and workers more fairly. So far, under new owner Elon Musk, the company has transmogrified into the bluebird of unhappiness.
Let’s take a moment to sympathize with all the people hurt by the turmoil at Twitter.
The pandemonium affects more than Musk. Workers have had their lives upended, by mass layoffs and, for those still on the job, the threat of long work weeks to fix the mess. Users who invested their time to figure out how to best use Twitter and how to make it part of their lives may have to start over elsewhere. People who don’t even use Twitter may see their identities appropriated and besmirched by a new army of phony tweeters.
Who, exactly, is all of this helping? What is to prevent major — and minor — Twitter users from taking wing?
For all its faults, Twitter could reasonably claim to be a global town square. Now it is more of the world’s Gordian knot, spreading chaos to businesses, democracy and personal lives.
In just one example, the rules changed on the blue check marks next to tweeters’ names that identified them as who they proclaimed to be. Suddenly, Twitter started letting anyone get an identical check mark by paying $7.99 a month, perhaps borrowing the identities of others with huge followings. The only way to tell the difference was to click through to the profile page. Who is going to do that with all the tweets that stream by every day?
On Friday, Twitter paused the rollout, which suggests — and this wasn’t hard to predict — that it was ill-considered. And wasn’t it an essential part of Twitter’s job all along to prevent users from posing as someone else and damaging their reputations?
Twitter has always been a place that is vulnerable to armies of bots and trolls emitting falsehoods that can go viral around the world. Last week, Musk laid off about half of Twitter’s 7,500 workers. Others have resigned. How is that supposed to make Twitter more reliable?
It’s hard to see how Musk pulls Twitter out of this rat’s nest. He is on the hook for about $1 billion a year of interest on debt at a company that already struggled to make money. Without enough engineers, the service could gradually degrade, maybe even implode. Certain functions might start working only sporadically, or not at all. New products he wants to roll out will have to be approved by the Federal Trade Commission.
So far, the changes at Twitter seem to have laid an egg. Let’s hope some measure of reliability and stability can be restored.
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