Twitter? I hardly know her!
by James Armes (they/them)
I created my Twitter account in September 2008, about two years after it was launched. I was early in my career and thought it sounded like a useful tool to connect with other engineers. And it was, for a time.
I didn’t really gain an audience, nor was I really looking to. My tweets weren’t exciting and didn’t create much conversation. There were times, however, that I had the opportunity to interact with others, including some more prominent figures in the industry.
In 2008, social media was still a new concept. Many of us were unsure how to utilize it and naive of what it would become. We’ve seen Twitter used to organize civil rights action, protest financial disparity, and even topple a dictator. On the other hand, we’ve also seen it used to spread misinformation, white supremacy, and all sorts of other disgusting ideologies.
Twitter had taken steps to curtail the spread of misinformation and hate speech. They added notices to potentially false tweets about politics and covid, made user reporting easier, and created a content moderation team. They even went as far as to block then-President Donald Trump. These efforts were far from perfect and oftentimes too late. The point I’m trying to make is that the platform was taking steps in the right direction.
Enter Elon Musk.
I’m not going to recount the well-publicized events leading up to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. If you’re coming here from the future or have somehow missed the headlines over the last 6+ months, NPR has a timeline of the roller coaster of events that led us here.
- Called a cave diver a pedophile
- Violated labor organizing laws
- Overworks employees and treats them terribly
- Spread misinformation about a global pandemic that killed millions
- Pays little to no taxes every year
- Discriminates against people of color
- Has been disowned by his own trans daughter
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
In 2019, I was shopping for a new car. I went with a Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. I could have purchased a Tesla, but, among other reasons, I didn’t want to support Elon Musk. That stands true today. I can’t in good conscience remain on a platform run by such a person.
You can fine me on Mastodon instead. I’ll leave my account up for now; who knows, maybe after Musk has had his fun, someone new will come along to rebuild.