At some point someone is going to chisel a hole into Elon Musk’s ego that is just large enough to slide a spreadsheet through. And Elon will look at the numbers. Wide eyed. And in an exasperated voice Mr. Musk will ask “you mean we need those libtard snowflakes to be happy for Twitter to be worth anything?”
That someone will use that spreadsheet to explain to Mr. Musk that Twitter’s advertisers are its customers. And its users are actually an expensive business cost. It costs a lot to keep them. That they will only stay if they think Twitter is fun and useful.
I will divide twitter users into three broad groups:
- Blue Check Journalists, Politicians and Professionals who have to be there
- Utilitarian users who are there for the people who have to be there, who read and rarely post.
This isn’t everyone but this covers almost everyone.
Blue Checks & Utilitarian users
The reason why Twitter needs to have verified users is because the large group of utilitarian users, the users who type “highway fire Pensacola” or “Giant’s draft choice” or “Primary Election” need to know if the person tweeting is a real person or a bot claiming the highway fire was caused by a Jewish Space laser.
This is a known person for whom making shit up would theoretically lead to some kind of negative consequence.
Breaking that will cause the utilitarian users to stop coming to Twitter for information. And without that audience of people, there is no point to Twitter.
Elon Musk seems to think Twitter is a new pubic square where people debate and reach a consensus in the middle. It is no such thing. 240 characters is not enough for debate. And the blue checks do not actually engage in meaningful debate with the masses anyway. Even the interactions between the Blue Checks has far more “dunking” than debate. Twitter is an awful place for debate or discussion. Tweet threads are a piss pour replacement for blog posts and the whole mechanism of reading responses has always been a garbage fire.
This brings us back to the person with the spreadsheet.
If you give trolls free rein to attack the people who have to be there then they are simply going to stop reading and participating in discussions. This make Twitter less fun. They will quiet quit twitter. They will post links to their articles and they will ignore any discussion. You are not going to see boosted responses of people who made a good point because they will not bother to look at responses. Forget oddball posts. Those will no longer be worth it.
If you allow Trolls to drown out useful information with a fever swamp of misinformation, conspiracy and trolling, Twitter will be less useful. If it becomes impossible to tell what content you see covering the highway fire comes from Journalists you may wish to follow and which comes from people with ulterior motives, they do not bother to go to Twitter for breaking news.
Being both less fun and less useful, Twitter will have less traffic. And the spreadsheet person will open the pivot table showing how traffic relates to ad rates.
The spreadsheet person will then explain that moderation exists for the advertisers who want to protect their brands. That without moderation, the customers will refuse to pay to put ads on Twitter because they do not want their products seen next to porn, gore or bigoted tweets. Top brands make Twitter more money and they will not pay for ads on service that lets Trolls harm their brand.
Put bluntly, the company serving an NFL streaming package offering to the person who types “Giant’s Draft Pick” doesn’t want to put that ad next to anything that would make the target of that ad feel offended in any way because it will lead to lower conversion. The spreadsheet will show this.
Elon Musk seems to have adopted the Right Wing Troll’s view of free speech. Trolls think that unless you let racists follow you around with a bull horn and shout slurs at you, you’re against free speech. If you point out how awful they act, that’s alienating. So of course they’ll act that way. In fact, they’ll get even worse! If criticisms of their actions cause any consequences to them-that’s cancel culture. If and when they turn violent, it’s your fault for not standing up for yourself.
And of course, making these points isn’t free speech. It’s being an SJW. I’ve been repeatedly assured that SJWs are the worst. They are the new Nazis who are shutting down free speech. By saying things. To people.
To the Trolls, Blue Checks exist as a status symbol, not a utility feature. Blue Checks exist to exclude them-important people with valuable opinions. They also think the moderation exist to silence valuable free speech. And all the time and effort explaining to them that Twitter is a business that sells the eyeballs of utilitarian users will be rewarded with cries of commie! groomer! what about Hunter’s laptop!
Trolls think Twitter exists for dunking on libtards because they think the Internet exists for dunking on libtards. And when you meet one in real life, you realize they think life exists for dunking on libtards.
By thinking that Trolls are part of the new pubic square rather than huge liars acting in bad faith; Musk is enabling the people who make Twitter both less fun and less useful. This is why the people who have to be there are engaging less and the people who are there for utilitarian use are looking for options to leave.
Elon will be told that spreadsheets don’t care about your feelings. I do not think he will enjoy learning that.