Bryan Zepp Jamieson
December 18th 2022
Well, Elon finally did something popular. He posted a tweet this afternoon, a poll, the sole question in which was, “Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.”
At last glance, with some 9 million votes cast, he was trailing badly, with Yes getting 58% of the vote. Now, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether that’s an actual legitimate count, and if Musk plans on honoring the results or not. He discarded one vote he lost badly on, blaming the overwhelming majority of votes on bots.
In any event, his aim isn’t to restore order in the wake of the chaos he has created. He wrote, “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor.” Hmm. Has anyone thought of asking Jack Dorsey? Oh, wait. The former Twitter CEO is running a rival social media known as Nostr. He is professing puzzlement at Musk’s antics, but in private he has to be laughing his ass off, to coin an internet phrase.
Mind you, in just the last 24 hours, Musk banned accounts that promoted or even linked to rival social media sites. He wrote, “we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr and Post.” One interesting omission there: TikTok. They are the Yellow Peril Panic of the week in right wing circles, and it’s strange that Musk didn’t pander to them.
The EU wasn’t amused by all this, even if the rest of us were. Per Brad Reed at Raw Story: Éric Freyssinet, the deputy director of France’s Cyberspace Gendarmerie Command, warned Twitter CEO Elon Musk that his company could lose protections against both civil and criminal legal liabilities if it really enforces this policy.
“Any attempt to remove my tweets that link to my other social media accounts, not violating any law, would actually make Twitter an editorial media, and no longer a social media platform, with civil and criminal liability for *any* illegal content therein,” he explained.
Oh, dear. Just Kanye West’s posts about Jews would qualify as illegal content under EU rules. Hate speech is against the law in that civilized corner of the world. Even in the US, editorial media—papers, cable news networks and so forth, steer clear of libelous and/or defamatory content, or like some of the less disreputable outfits that dabbled in it last year, they could face ruinous lawsuits of, oh, say, $1.6 billion. I’m sure you can think of a few examples, and none of them sound very happy about those suits right now.
After that, Musk jaunted off to Qatar to watch the final of the World Cup, aka the Merde! Bowl. He got photographed with Jared Kushner and Qatari leaders, which brought to mind Mos Eisley spaceport from Star Wars. You know the one. “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” The only thing missing was The Former Guy.
Imagine you get a call tomorrow morning from some clerk at Twitter headquarters. “Musk just walked out! It’s bedlam! It’s chaos!” You might ask what Musk walking out had to do with the bedlam and chaos, since it’s a bit like saying the traffic light just turned red and that’s why there’s a full moon. The clerk, sobbing convulsively, screams “Save us, Obi-Wan! You’re our only hope.” (Yeah, I know, you start with one quote from that damn movie and it metastasizes…).
OK, snow’s ploughed, gifts are under the tree, wife just left you for a television repairman. You say, what the fuck? Demand an iron clad contract that says you get a few million for three months work no matter what, put on a firefighter’s gear, and wade in.
What would you do first?
I would do an instant reset. Undo every change that Musk made that still survived his mercurial moods. Invite every employee that Musk canned or forced out back, at the same pay, and with a promise for a fat bonus if at the end of your three month period, they had managed to right the ship. Bring back the voluntary council that Musk just canned earlier this week and tell them to get cracking on rules that were consistent and, even more importantly, able to be applied consistently. Hate speech, disinformation, doxxing and defamatory attacks would once again result in suspension.
Reset to last known version that worked. And then carefully build from there. If you have to move slowly and cautiously, so be it. We’ve seen what brash and impulsive rule looks like. It looks like the Qatari mens’ soccer team.
Musk should help to further degrade the cult-like faith people have that those who are rich and famous must therefore be wise and capable of strong leadership. Gawd knows America has no shortage of overprivileged libertarian cnuts that show, if anything that the exact opposite is true. Billionaires are not your buddy, and don’t care about your interests and needs. In fact, they’re sure that if they had, they wouldn’t be billionaires in the first place. Stop worshipping them.
In the meantime, keep watching Twitter. It’s the best Marx Brothers movie they’ve made in 75 years.