It was an announcement that sent shockwaves through the world of new technologies: Elon Musk, the emblematic and controversial boss of Tesla, bought the Twitter platform on October 28, for around 44 billion dollars. The billionaire, known for his tweets capable of collapsing the price of bitcoin and his eccentricities, has multiplied the blows in recent days, raising fears for the worst among users of the platform. Even Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey expressed regret over the platform’s takeover. “I realize a lot of people are mad at me,” he tweeted a few days ago.
Elon Musk has kicked in the anthill, in particular through a massive layoff plan that would affect “about 50%” of its 7,500 employees. Last Friday, the platform’s offices were closed, and thousands of people were notified by e-mail of their dismissal. For other employees, the shock was even more severe: some discovered, sometimes in the middle of the night, that access to their laptop or their mailbox was impossible. The hashtags #LoveWhereYouWorked or #OneTeam flourished on Twitter, where former employees expressed their sadness and concern for the future of the social network.
A freedom of expression with variable geometry
Dissolution of the company’s board of directors, dismissal of the general manager of Twitter and a few other senior officials… In addition to the massive layoffs operated by Elon Musk, the billionaire hastened to set up his new projects for the platform. Among them, the relaxation of the moderation rules of the social network, with the aim of facilitating “freedom of expression”. The one who promised the creation of a moderation council has so far changed nothing in Twitter’s current moderation policies. However, according to a study by Montclair State University, hate speech would have dramatically increased following the takeover of the platform by Elon Musk. For many observers, Musk’s speech around freedom of expression seems rather changeable according to his interests: for example, he announced to ban parody accounts not identified as such… While blocking parody accounts with a vengeance concerning him.
Another point of contention for the new boss of Twitter: his desire to make certification on the paid platform, up to 8 dollars per month. A way for him to be less dependent on advertisers, and to guarantee more authenticity on the social network. In addition, this certification would allow those who obtain it to publish longer videos and see fewer advertisements. An announcement that did not please many users, including bestselling author Stephen King, who tweeted: “20 dollars a month to keep my certification? Fuck them, they should pay me! “. According to several sources within the company, the overhaul of the social network should arrive in the coming days, at the cost of exhausted employees, sometimes working up to 12 hours a day to keep up with the pace imposed by their new boss.
Mastodon, Bluesky: the exile of users to other platforms
On Twitter, the events of the past few days have created a wave of panic among many Internet users. And some have announced that they want to migrate to other platforms. Among them, Mastodon and Bluesky, which offer the same features as Twitter. Mastodon, which would now have more than 670,000 subscribers according to the Guardian, would gain thousands of users every day. The platform founded in 2016 by the German Eugen Rochko allows you to publish messages of 500 characters, photos and videos. The only difference: on Mastodon, you have to choose your server to register your profile there, in a decentralized way. According to several observers, the exile of Internet users to Mastodon is however not assured, the German network perhaps not having the shoulders to replace the blue bird. And above all, many Internet users have admitted to finding its operation quite complex.
Other alternatives to Twitter include Bluesky, a platform launched in 2019 by ex-Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Available only for now in beta, the network has seen thousands of registrations on its waiting list since the announcement of the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk. Bluesky is also a decentralized social network, more designed for developers and other computer enthusiasts. In short, a much less intuitive platform than its historical competitor. There remains the return to certain historical networks: many Internet users have referred to the reliability of the forums of yesteryear, or to networks such as Tumblr, Reddit or Discord… And if the internet of the future rested in the internet of before ?