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I'm feeling less and less good about being on Twitter. It seems a little bit like Elon Musk thought that the previous owners of the site very intentionally were exercising power over him, and so now he is entirely justified in exercising power over others. Like, he felt like he'd been trolled when he was in fact just interacting with a world that will always disagree with itself, and now he wants to troll back.

I think he felt like he was abused, and now he's abusing back. The thing is, he wasn't abused, he was just treated like a powerful member of society. Powerful people are always subject to intense scrutiny...and I bet that's hard. Now he's made himself even more powerful, and that seems like a bad choice.


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Good Morning John, A few months ago I made a video arguing that Elon Musk misunderstood the challenges of content moderation and social media, and that I figured he was quickly discovering, as Nilay Patel has said, that  the main product of a social media platform IS CONTENT MODERATION.

Whether that’s recommendations or algorithmic feeds,  or demoting or censoring hateful content. I think that I was right about that, but also that Elon was right about  something else,  that I totally missed, and should have seen.

I am a person who, professionally,   understands a large group of people. That’s not the whole job, but it’s a big piece of it, like,  understanding what people will like, what they’re thinking about,  what they’re concerned about, what they’re worried about,  what they’re excited about, and Elon Musk is absolutely right,  that his people, his audience,  are really worried about something that they call Free Speech. It is not what I call free speech, and not what’s protected by  the first amendment, but it is a thing.

And it’s a totally legitimate thing. Here it is, internet media platforms have a huge influence on society,  and there are people who work at those platforms,  who we do not know, and thus cannot trust,  who have a huge influence on what is allowed on those platforms,  and what is promoted and demoted. That’s real, and it’s weird, and it’s worrying,  because this is a lot of how people communicate now.

Now what Elon Musk said out loud about this was  If people want laws preventing speech,  they’ll pass laws preventing speech,  and until that happens, Twitter should just allow all legal speech. That’s what he said, but what he meant was,  somebody’s gonna be making these subjective moderation decisions  and I don’t trust them, but I do trust myself and  a lot of other people trust me too. As I tweeted a few weeks ago.

Actually a lot of people who say they  want “free speech” actually just want to be the one in charge  of which speech is free. I thought Elon’s audience was gonna get super mad at him  very quickly because it would turn out that he would have to continue making  all these subjective content moderation  decisions because Twitter still had to be a business that was  appealing to users and advertisers. I was totally wrong about this.

Elon Musk doesn’t need to change the content moderation policies  of Twitter in order to satisfy his audience because this isn’t about  policy it’s about vibes. It’s not about the decisions,  it’s about who is making the decisions. Indeed, so far, he hasn’t changed any policies, though I’m not going  to put it past him.

Even the ones he was most upset about before he was in charge. And it seems mostly like his audience isn’t at all concerned about that. So Elon’s obviously feeling very empowered,  so is his audience, but now we have the opposite problem.

His people are happy,  everybody else is either unhappy or at least concerned. Cause remember, I–I just said this,  it was never about the decisions, it was about the vibes.  It was about who's making the decisions. And a lot of people are not, or will never be fans of Elon Musk.

Twitter’s previous management, for all of its failures,  did try to like, listen to people who are upset  and then make a decision that was thoughtful and transparent. But, Elon is mostly just gleefully  antagonistic towards people who don’t agree with him. And if those people leave Twitter it just becomes an $8 per month  subscription to the Elon Musk fan club.

And that’s not a good website. However, right now, the opposite is happening,  people are flocking to Twitter specifically because of Elon Musk’s  erratic behavior. This is the second thing he was right about that I didn’t get.

People don’t want Twitter to be stable, they want it to be reality TV drama constantly  unfolding before them. Feeling important despite being mostly inconsequential. Leaning into the interesting has been good for Twitter’s growth,  but I think it’s been very bad for Twitter internally,  and I think it’s been bad for advertising dollars.

And I have no idea if you can build a sustainable business this way. It seems like it would be hard. And there will be a number of challenges that Twitter will need to overcome.

But what I do know is that while Twitter only occasionally  brings me joy, the awesome socks club brings me joy every single month. You can get a different pair of socks designed by a  different independent artist, delivered to your door once a month. Free shipping, cancel any time, ankle socks or mid-calf crews,  and now we’re shipping out of the EU  so you don’t have to worry about customs if you’re in Europe.

I just want to make this as easy a decision as possible! The socks are super comfy, people will tell you, this,  they’re all I wear any more. And 100% of the profit goes to decrease maternal  and child mortality in Sierra Leone.

John, I’ll see you on Tuesday