The Power of Twitter: What Will It Take to Help Us Grow and What Will We Mean to Give to the Future of the Internet? A Discussion with David Musk on Gadget Lab
If hubris had a hall of fame, Musk would be a first-ballot shoo-in. He believes his Musk-itude will enable him to do what generations of previous Twitter leaders could not even begin to accomplish, swatting away historical precedent like an annoying gnat. Twitter began in 2006 but didn’t take off until almost a year later, when it became a hit at the South by Southwest conference. It experienced huge growth from then on. A 2009 memo quoted then-CEO Evan Williams saying in a strategy meeting, “If we had a billion users, that will be the pulse of the planet.” At the time, a billion Twitter users seemed plausible, if not inevitable. And Williams believed that with this base, it would be easy to concoct a business plan that made the company wildly profitable. But Twitter never got even half of those billion users, and while it seemed to come up with a good ad-based business model, it has had only two years of profit in its almost 20 years on earth. Every person who has led Twitter has tried to boost user growth and solidify profits. Evan Williams tried. Dick Costolo tried. Jack Dorsey tried, twice. Over the years, people who knew the inside workings of the platform tried and failed to make it bigger and better. Before he decorates his Christmas tree, Musk wants to figure out how to do it at least one more time.
Bluesky has received $13 million in funding from the company so far, and as a member of the board, Dorsey still is involved. Bluesky had only just unveiled an improved version of its platform called the AT Protocol and technical documentation that showed how developers could build on top of it, so there was little to show for this investment until a few weeks ago. It also set up a waitlist for its app, which will act as a browser for the network and enter private beta testing soon. Bluesky is an independent entity and can provide public benefit, but whether or not dollars keep flowing will be up to Musk.
This week on Gadget Lab, we talk with WIRED platforms and power reporter Vittoria Elliot about the changes coming to Twitter and how they may affect the future of the social network.
If you are interested in having a boy or girl, then you should encourage your male friends to watch House of the Dragon. The new album from Natalia Lafourcade, De Todas las Flores is recommended by Mike. Lauren recommends that you rethink your relationship with social media.
GadgetLab, a Social Media Site for Fat Baryons and Fat Fat Lambda’s (Dizzy) Fat Lipas
The person can be found on the social media site, by the name of TRIXAELLI. LaurenGoode is the user name of Lauren Goode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by a man. Solar Keys is the music for our theme.
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The Mastodon experience of Steve Jobs: A comparison with SpaceX, where Musk spent 20 years before launching SpaceX and what Tesla did before turning it over
At the time, Jobs had been developing personal computers for 20 years, his entire adult life. He was very familiar with the company he was taking over because of the fact that he had founded and been the leader of the team that created its flagship product. In his years away from Apple, he had founded another computer company with a forward-thinking approach to the internet and next-generation operating systems. He was named after Steve Jobs. If anyone could quickly turn around the near-bankrupt computer giant, it would be him. He had months to come up with a plan and years to bring it to fruition. The iMac that he showed to me in May would help bridge the gap between revenue and cost, but it wasn’t until non-PC devices like the iPod were launched that Apple became a profit machine. And Apple’s post-PC future wasn’t even on Jobs’ road map in 1998.
Musk need not look farther than his own successful enterprises to realize the absurdity of his haste. When he took over Tesla in 2008, the company was already five years old. Musk came up with a brilliant plan to turn the company around—but it didn’t post an annual profit until 2020, 17 years after incorporation. Musk is recognized for what he has accomplished and for his persistence. SpaceX, Musk’s other company, is private and doesn’t report earnings. But making rocket ships is the ultimate test of patience—it takes years to even launch successfully, and cutting corners to go faster can wind up killing people.
She said that the user experience of Mastodon was similar to that of the popular social networking site. Mastodon has many of the same features that are used by current TWo users though with some differences; there is a 500 character limit, you can post images and videos, and you can follow others.
Some of the new sign-ups at Mastodon include a number of users with big followings, such as Kathy, who joined in early November, and Molly, who joined in October.
There are some key differences, particularly in how the network is set up. Because Mastodon users’ accounts are hosted on a slew of different servers, the costs of hosting users is spread among many different people and groups. Users are spread all over the place, and it can be hard to find people who you know. This setup has different email providers like Hotmail and Gmail, according to Rochko.
On Mastodon, for instance, you have to join a specific server to sign up, some of which are open to anyone, some of which require an invitation (you can also run your own server). I sign in to access Mastodon on the web using the Mstdn.social server, which is also the server that is not accepting more users.
And while you can follow any other Mastodon user, no matter which server they’ve signed up with, you can only see the lists of who follows your Mastodon friends, or who your Mastodon friends follow, if the followers happen to belong to the same server you’re signed up with (I realized this while trying to track down more people I know who recently signed up).
How Did Elon Musk Start to Tweet? The Life of a Tiny Town Elected Electric CarInventor Revealed by a Complete Newcomer to Twitter
At first, it felt as if I was starting over, in a sense, as a complete newcomer to social media. It is similar to Twitter in some aspects and the app is easy to use.
Despite being ten times more popular on social media, the stuff that he posts on Mastodon is still getting a good amount of engagement.
“I thought, ‘What’s it going to be like to start over again?’” she asked. It is kind of interesting that that person is here. Here’s so-and-so! I’m so happy they’re here to stay with us.
On Thursday of last week, Musk fired off a thought that was 888-282-0465 888-282-0465 888-282-0465 888-282-0465 and felt like it came from his own mind. Congratulations: We all live in Tiny Talk Town now, where all conversation is about Elon Musk.
Though Twitter has yet to fully collapse, people have already jumped to other social media platforms, leaving the Twitter town square a little less full than it once was.
A relatively small group of people have a micro-networking website. According to internal company research viewed by Reuters, heavy users who tweet in English “account for less than 10 percent of monthly overall users, but generate 90 percent of all tweets and half of global revenue.”
It is easy for an electric car inventor who follows a lot of blue checks to mistakenly think he is the only one who has a bad experience on the service. (Same goes for journalists.) In reality, nearly half of Twitter users tweet less than five times a month, and most of their posts are replies, not original tweets. They check in on current events or live sports or celebrity news, and then they go about their lives. They are called lurkers.
Lurking isn’t doomscrolling, a practice (and phrase) that took hold during the early days of the Covid pandemic, when many people found themselves stuck at home and grasping at info on social media. Choosing to lurk, to sit back and observe for a while, is basically a heuristic and simplistic approach to dealing with the complexity and chaos that is New Twitter. Don’t use your app or browser until you check in on the new toy from Musk. Go ahead and send a message, but then disengage. It is advisable to keep an eye on it during basketball games. Direct those messaging threads to another place if you have to. It’s time to take your most original thoughts to another place.
Why do scientists think Mastodon is different from Twitter? A review on Musk, Flick, Brown, Brown and the other 10 reasons why scientists shouldn’t take Twitter seriously
The open-source platform has added nearly half a million users in little more than a week — but should scientists make the leap? We examine the pros and cons.
Musk’s erratic and confrontational management of Twitter has worried many users, including researchers such as Knight. For hundreds of thousands of scientists, Twitter is a sounding board, megaphone and common room: a place to broadcast research findings, debate issues in academia and interact with people who they wouldn’t normally meet up with.
The instance means that anyone in an organization can set up a server for their organization and host users on it. Those are the servers that represent geographical locations or areas of interest. Once they have joined a server, users can chat with others on that server, or post into the federated universe (or fediverse). Messages posted to most server can be read if a user opts out.
Unlike Twitter, where missives are limited to 280 characters, you can post up to 11,000 characters in a single Mastodon message — known as a toot. Another difference is how users encounter content: Twitter’s algorithmic recommendations are nowhere to be seen on Mastodon. What they share has an effect on what you see.
“Coming into Mastodon is a bit like going for drinks after a conference,” says Flick. You chat with people who understand the ground rules for academic conversations. She compares it favourably with Twitter, where it feels like everyone is listening in and the world is watching. Ian Brown, a cybersecurity researcher at Getúlio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thinks that a considerable number of Mastodon users are probably academics.
Users might be given pause by some issues. Mastodon has a lack of algorithmic recommendations, which makes it more likely to categorize conversations around hashtags. But there isn’t an obvious way to corral conversations about a particular academic paper, using a DOI reference as a hashtag, because of the way that the platform’s technical architecture works. A user asked for the function to be introduced after they reported the issue.
After leaving university, Rochko began to work on Mastodon. He wanted to create a platform that wasn’t controlled by anyone but himself, because online communication is too important to be messed with. He believed that the canny design and lack of a profit motive could make users less likely to be harassed and abused.
Since Musk took over Twitter, Rochko has been working long hours to keep his own server, Mastodon. He was preparing to upgrade to Mastodon but still took a moment to chat with WIRED from Germany. The conversation was edited for clarity.
Eugen Rochko: People probably want to hear that it’s been great—all this growth and success—but I would prefer to be watching from the sidelines. There are more fires to put out. It’s incredibly stressful. I’m pulling 14-hour workdays, sleeping very little, and eating very little.
The whole story coincides with the process of releasing a new version of the Mastodon software. You have to put a lot of focus into that. You also have to deal with responding to press inquiries and running social media accounts to take advantage of the opportunity.
Yeah, it was good and gratifying at an objective level. I would like to lean back and enjoy the fact that there are so many new people using Mastodon such as Stephen Fry. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to lean back and enjoy that. There has been an increase in funds due to all the new Patreon donations in the past 10 days, it’s been unprecedented.
Crowdfunding and the emergence of digital literacy: The case of Sheehan’s book, “It’s gonna come out of nowhere”
Many users followed along with the short blurbs on the platform. Dan’s ability to excel in his personal and professional lives came from gaining a platform on TWotter.
I got some of my first job offers in the space of copywriting after building this following for myself. “That’s how I paid the bills for a long time.”
Through copywriting, Sheehan was able to dedicate time to writing his novel, a project that was made a reality in part by crowdfunding through his large Twitter following.
“The fact that I was able to keep the lights on, the bills paid, while writing the book, and then have the book reach that audience of over 100,000 people directly, none of that could have been done through traditional means,” he says.
The children of the wealthy have cornered the creative fields for a long time. Twitter allowed you to build this audience that made you undeniable to the people holding the keys to that.”
It’s hard for brown reporters to get their names out there and get paid by publications. At the start of her career, Rasilla posted her work to Twitter, mainly music reviews, and eventually landed a job writing those reviews for a local TV station. She continued getting job offers and this led to her job today. In the future, future journalists won’t have the same opportunities.
“It’s just unfortunate that the diversity problem continues, and I don’t know how now, those communities are going to find each other… She says that she was able to start following people and read other people’s work after following followers on the micro-networking website.
Twitter and the Disability of MSc Candidates: Wendi Muse explains the Twitter ban in the wake of Musk’s decision to step down from Twitter
Wendi Muse, a Ph.D candidate with multiple sclerosis, was an active member of ‘Disability Twitter’ for years. She posted resources to help people with masks, and also sent some from the personal stock she had. Earlier this year, she noticed a greater demand for reliable N95 masks in the immunocompromised community.
“In total, it’s going to be more than 12,000 masks that I sent out just on my own, from my living room since January of this year,” Muse says. She doesn’t believe she would have been able to reach that many people if it weren’t for her presence on the social networking site.
It has been important because it has allowed me and other people who are less fortunate to learn more about the disease, as well as reaching out to people who do not have access to these resources.
For Muse, and many others, the potential end of Twitter would be a big loss, even as alternative sites like Discord or Mastodon have seen a recent influx in new users.
I think that lack of knowledge is making it more hard for people with disabilities and elderly who might not know how to talk to other people.
When the polling station closed on Monday, more than half of the users who responded to the polls voted in favor of Musk stepping down as the head of the social network.
He used that to justify Twitter’s moves last week to suspend the accounts of numerous journalists who cover the social media platform and Musk, among them reporters working for The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Voice of America and other publications. Following an online poll, many of those accounts were restored.
Twitter had said it would at least temporarily suspend accounts that include the banned websites in their profile — a practice so widespread it would have been difficult to enforce the restrictions on Twitter’s millions of users around the world. Links could have led to a suspension, the company said, if attempts were made to avoid the ban.
The action to block competitors was Musk’s latest attempt to crack down on certain speech after he shut down a Twitter account last week that was tracking the flights of his private jet.
The banned platforms included mainstream websites such as Facebook and Instagram, and upstart rivals Mastodon, Tribel, Nostr, Post and former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social. Twitter gave no explanation for why the blacklist included those seven websites but not others such as Parler, TikTok or LinkedIn.
The test case was the venture capitalist, Paul Graham, who told his 1.5 million followers that this was the “last straw” and to find Musk on Mastodon. His Twitter account was promptly suspended, and soon after restored as Musk promised to reverse the policy implemented just hours earlier.
Musk permanently banned the @ElonJet account on Wednesday, then changed Twitter’s rules to prohibit the sharing of another person’s current location without their consent. He then took aim at reporters who were reporting on the account, claiming that they were broadcasting “basically assassination coordinates.”
“Again, the suspension occurred with no warning, process or explanation — this time as our reporter merely sought comment from Musk for a story,” Buzbee said. Lorenz’s account was restored and she thought that her suspension had been lifted.
Musk said that he didn’t want to be the CEO of any other company or the CEO of the company he was in, preferring to see himself as an engineer. Musk said that he expected an organizational restructure of Twitter to be finished in the next week or so. It’s been more than a month since he said that.
In public banter with Twitter followers Sunday, Musk expressed pessimism about the prospects for a new CEO, saying that person “must like pain a lot” to run a company that “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy.”
The Evil Billionaire Attack: The case of WordPress and other open source content management systems in order to monetize the Evil Maid Attack
The evil maid attack is a type of information security vulnerability in which an untrusted party can gain physical access to important hardware, such as the laptops in your hotel room, when you leave them unattended. This is a new analog that is capable of damaging systems and leaking data. You may call it an evil billionaire attack. Money is more than just money, and the likelihood that when the time arrives you won’t have enough of it is the weapon. The call is coming from inside the house.
The reason this strategy works is that most ideas of any consequence are owned by people with more money than you, and then whenever possible they string them together into a network with the specific intent of making the gravity inescapable. Founders and investors and excitable technology writers like myself frequently use the term “platform” to describe technical systems with granular components that can be used to compose new functionality, and the power sources propelling the technology industry find platforms particularly appealing when the bits can be monetized each time they are used.
Blockchains fight this problem on the deepest level possible. It would be difficult for Musk to kill off his own creation if there were a few users who objected. It’s impossible to lose access to many computers due to the risk of Duplicating across many computers. This comes with different complications, of course, but losing information outright due to a hostile party is not one of them. For example, when the Hic et Nunc marketplace for NFTs went under in late 2021, another version relaunched, putting a new wrapper around the same content. Interoperability is forced by the shared resource of theBlockchain, almost like organic self-defense.
Consider the case ofWordPress, which has since become a more elaborate general-purpose content management software. 40 percent of the open web is currently powered by it. There is a huge economy surrounding it, with companies that develop websites, developers who work for the companies, and Independent developers who write extensions which can be unlocked or extended with licensing fees all part of it. The core is an open source platform and encourages the same of its ecosystems. WordPress has been around for a long time and its straightforward RSS feeds decisively lost out to Twitter’s social features, so in 2022 there is a reasonable argument that it is a bit long in the tooth. But we must now understand it to be a bigger technical success than Twitter, simply because it is not at risk.
It is a stark reminder that centralized platforms can impose arbitrary and unfair limits on what you can and can not say while holding your social graph hostage.
Things were even more unreliable at the social networking site. Musk spent months in a battle to get out of a deal after he launched a surprise bid for the company.
On 11 December, Musk tweeted that his “pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci” in an apparent attempt both to mock the transgender and gender-nonconforming rights movements and to malign the departing director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, who has faced abuse and death threats for his role in advising the US government response to COVID-19.
Has Twitter Helped Scientists in Fighting Cancer? A Report from Co-author Rodrigo Costas Comesana and his colleagues on Twitter
It is not possible for me to know many scientists without it. It gives you more opportunities no matter where you are and increases democracy in science.
No one knows how many researchers have joined Twitter, but this August, Rodrigo Costas Comesana, an information scientist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his colleagues published a data set of half a million Twitter users1 who are probably researchers. The software was used to match details of the accounts of the authors to those of the users. Costas and others estimated that 1% of paper authors in the Web of Science had profiles on social media, with varying proportions by country. A 2014 Nature survey found that 13% of researchers used Twitter regularly, although respondents were mostly English-speaking and there would have been self-selection bias (see Nature 512, 126–129; 2014).
It has also given an influential voice to people who might otherwise be excluded, and has helped to broker support networks for those who don’t see people like them in their own departments, says Sigourney Bonner, co-founder of the #BlackinCancer community and a PhD student at Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Institute. She says that she didn’t meet a Black woman with a PhD until she started her own. In addition to being used as a rally point for discussing key problems in academia, #BlackInTheIvory has also become a popular way to talk about biases in the classroom.
In a widely shared study from 2018, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge studied Twitter and found that false news stories on the site spread much faster than do true news stories — possibly because, they reported, the false news items had more ‘novelty’ than the true news6. Fear, disgust, and surprise were some of the emotions caused by the false news.
A PhD student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne is studying the impact of hate speech on use of the social media platform, and found that users who use hate speech more frequently are more likely to post it.
What science really is, and what science really needs to happen, when we don’t know if we are doing it right: the case of Mastodon
He doesn’t think we have talked enough about the process of doing science and how the social process of science works. It looks very, very different when you see science in the making.
After Musk mocked Fauci, Bergstrom locked his own account. He stated that it wouldn’t work on a platform run by a right wing troll who denies science when his results are inconvenient to him and only to hear his audience cheer.
According to researchers who spoke to Nature, despite the platform’s bad qualities, there is still a need for trained scientists to point people to the best evidence-based information. In reply to Bergstrom’s farewell, Trish Greenhalgh, a health scientist at the University of Oxford, UK, argued that people like him are still needed, and that she feels duty-bound to carry on: “We can and must stick around and post sensible scientific tweets. I’m staying.”
There is definitely a lot of activity behind it. “Whether that momentum has pushed it over the tipping point, I don’t know. It reminds me of my experience in early Twitter, which was very positive. You were familiar with all of the people there.
There are more responsibilities for the increasing number of users, not only for Mastodon, but for volunteer administrators as their hobbies have become second jobs.
According to an attorney who specializes in internet law, a lot of people do not understand what they are getting into. “If you’re running these [instances], you have to run it like you’re the owner of Twitter. What people don’t understand is that it takes a lot of time and money to run a platform like this.
In the US alone, there’s the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes social platforms liable for copyrighted material posted there if they don’t register to protect themselves and work to take it down (registering takes just a few minutes and costs $6). The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule makes sure that platforms don’t collect children’s data. The admins have to report child exploitation material to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. There is a privacy and human rights law in Europe. Europe’s new Digital Service Act could apply to Mastodon servers too, if they become large enough. And administrators must comply with not only their local laws, but laws that exist anywhere their server is accessible. That’s all daunting, experts say, but not impossible.
Facebook burned through a lot of money trying to make the metaverse happen. Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion and plunged the company into chaos, sending advertisers and some power users fleeing. Across Silicon Valley, tens of thousands of workers have been laid off as economic woes deflated tech’s pandemic high.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had renamed his company Meta to signal a new big bet on the metaverse, an immersive, virtual world he thinks is the future of the internet.
Jack Dorsey had handed over the reins to technology chief Parag Agrawal. The company was launching new features and working to boost users and revenue, in a departure from its longtime reputation as being slow to innovate.
The Digital Landscape Changing After Musk: How Social Apps Changed the Market for Ad-Relationships and the Competition Between Online Marketing and Social Media
But within months, the mood changed dramatically. The online advertising market collapsed due to the global economic turmoil, higher interest rates and the invasion of Ukranian.
The company said its first-ever declines in users and sales. The company has lost about two-thirds of its market value this year. Several ad-reliant companies were also feeling the squeeze.
After Musk gave in and took control in late October, he slashed the workforce by more than half, upended the site’s long-time rules, amplified conspiracy theories, welcomed back banned accounts including former President Donald Trump, and released internal documents in what appeared to be an attempt to discredit the previous management.
“Users are using [social apps] differently. “Advertising companies are using them in different ways.” said the former public policy director at Facebook. Advertisers are trying to figure out where people are looking for entertainment as they go to different places to see it.
TikTok is under scrutiny over national security, because of its links to China. It has been banned from government owned devices in a number of states. But it’s already changed the landscape.
Michael Sayman, an app developer who has worked at Facebook, said that a shinier object in the social media space doesn’t involve your friends and what their friends are up to.
People are looking for alternatives to keep up with friends. Many are using messaging services likeWhatsApp, Signal and Discord, as well as more private ones like Bereal, which prevents people from liking or sharing photos.
Disillusionment with the legacy social sites has also inspired a new crop of apps by and for conservatives, who feel their views are muzzled by Silicon Valley.
The public conversation can be split across more platforms, which has implications when it comes to how social media can be used. It’s making life more complicated for the threats actors trying to spread propaganda, and for the people trying to investigate those threat actors, whether they are journalists or researchers.
Scaling up the Fediverse: a case study with Mastodon and the Inclusive Lite-Algorithm
The biggest lesson of what happened is that Mastodon and the other Fediverse can scale. Robert Gehl is a professor of communication and media studies at York University in Canada. He has studied Mastodon, and says it enjoyed peaks of interest while it was slumps before. But that pattern can still add momentum. A percentage of the wave sticks from time to time. People convert to it.
During Mastodon’s Musk bump, admins worked hard to get servers swamped by new users back online. They crowdfunded money to pay for increased hosting bills and updated their policies on moderation.