When billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter, he seemed intent on fixing it – and in doing so ensuring free speech would be protected on the online platform. Comedy, this self-appointed free speech warrior assured us, was now legal on Twitter:
Comedy is now legal on Twitter
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
As it turned out, he wasn’t wrong – just not in the way he meant. Just weeks into his leadership, Elon Musk has become the butt of an ongoing international joke on the biggest platform of all. The very platform he pledged to ‘fix’.
And as our own Curtis Daly wrote at the time:
But the larger point isn’t about the fact that Elon Musk is simply an asshole, it’s the fact that one man can wield so much power. Giving one sole billionaire control of speech on a huge platform, to use it as a plaything when the website has been an important tool – not least for journalism – should never have been allowed to happen.
Musk’s takeover almost immediately led him into embarrassing collisions with his own Twitter engineers, amid a wave of sackings. He even fired one on Twitter itself. Musk later deleted his own tweet:
Guess it is official now. pic.twitter.com/5SRwotyD8J
— Eric Frohnhoefer @ 🏡 (@EricFrohnhoefer) November 14, 2022
Musk went on to make light of his decision:
I would like to apologize for firing these geniuses. Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 15, 2022
The public firings came about as a result of simple criticism from engineers. As one commentator pointed out, Musk claimed to be keen on open debate until someone actually debated him:
Free speech and anti-censorship warrior Elon Musk fires two Twitter engineers who corrected him on Twitter. So, he’s all for ”open debate” until he’s the one corrected. This has been his track record for years, but people still bought into his “freedom” bullshit. pic.twitter.com/2sa660LWdz
— Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) November 15, 2022
Twitter users have looked on in a mix of shock and amusement as Musk has continued to make clown out of himself on the app he paid an estimated $44bn for. This includes engineers who continue to slam Musk:
As an engineer at Twitter, I can confirm that Elon Musk doesn’t understand anything about our website, or coding in general. Not gonna lie, we laugh REALLY hard about it behind his back. We’ve been calling him “the CEO,” but it stands for Code Efficiency 0.
— diana thirst (@rlycalm) November 15, 2022
However, there was a degree of admiration for Musk’s completely unjustified levels of self-belief:
can’t believe my stupid ass has imposter syndrome while elon musk is confidently marching around twitter HQ and chewing on wires until something breaks
— soul nate (@MNateShyamalan) November 14, 2022
There was also disbelief that the erratic billionaire had actually chosen to spend his time getting laughed at on Twitter instead of behind closed doors as usual:
Elon Musk isn't managing Twitter any differently than any other company he's managed.
It's just that the entire world has a front-row seat to his disastrously megalomaniacal management style in real time with Twitter.
— David Austin Walsh (@DavidAstinWalsh) November 12, 2022
Clearly there is a lesson in here for Elon Musk – though nobody is quite sure what it is yet. One wonders if Musk will even have the faculties to see it when it arrives.
As for the rest of us, we get ringside seats for the bird app’s long-overdue apocalypse.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Ministério Das Comunicações, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under CC BY 2.0.
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