Twitter has become a ticking time-bomb and it's getting worse every day. And yet we still have not seen the mass-exodus of journalists everyone would have expected after Musk banned a dozen of them for flimsy reasons, claiming they would have been a threat to his safety. Why is the media so dependent on Twitter that it's holding itself hostage on a platform that's obviously turning against them?
We as journalists should have left Twitter the moment colleagues were banned for reporting critical about the lone self-proclaimed ruler. All together. We could have made an impact as Twitter w/o journalists would basically fall back to posting images of cats. But we stayed, being too fascinated, too scared to miss something “worth reporting”. Major news outlets lack the courage to make the first step e.g. to Mastodon and Elon Musk is aware of exactly that. We’re selling ourselves to a narcissist who’s making fun of the press and what it stands for.
We really should have left. Why can’t we?
In May 2021, journalist Dave Lee, who covers technology for BBC News, was temporarily banned from Twitter after he tweeted about Musk's behavior on the platform. Lee argued that Musk's tweets, which included false and misleading information, were harmful to the public and called for Twitter to hold him accountable. However, Twitter argued that Lee's tweets violated the platform's rules against harassment and abuse, and banned him as a result. The ban of Dave Lee sparked a wider conversation about the role of social media platforms in regulating the behavior of high-profile users, particularly those with a large influence on public opinion and the markets. Some argued that Twitter has a responsibility to hold all users, including Musk, to the same standards and that the ban of journalists like Lee undermines the credibility of the platform. Others defended Twitter's right to enforce its terms of service and argued that journalists should be held to a higher standard of accuracy and professionalism on social media.
Ultimately, the ban of journalists on Twitter raises important questions about the balance between free expression and accountability on social media platforms. While it is important to protect the freedom of journalists to report and share information, it is also important for social media platforms to enforce their rules and hold all users accountable for their actions. As the role of social media in public discourse continues to evolve, it will be important for these platforms to find a way to strike this balance in a fair and transparent manner. Twitter obviously made a decision against this.
But it is getting worse: Musk announced on Saturday that Twitter "will start incorporating mute & block signals from Blue Verified (not Legacy Blue) as downvotes". Taking into account that the majority of upcoming subscribers will be the army of goons loyal to Elon Musk, this will result in unwanted critics being down-voted, creating echo chambers of hate.
Twitter has not been about conversation and debate anymore for a long time. These days it is all about broadcasting and showing off. Other than Mastodon where there is actual interaction and great dialogue.
"Twitter is a war zone. Thank god it’s just a digital village square and not a real one. The stakes are still high, but they’re not life & death." - Elon Musk, 2018
As for myself: I had my finger hovering above the "Deactivate your Account" button multiple times. But right now I feel like not being able to observe and comment on Elon Musk might be the bigger evil.