This week, Doc and I had a candid, open conversation about the future of Twitter, as we see it.
Since the first time Elon Musk showed interest in owning Twitter, many have expressed concern about what he might change about the platform. This concern has become increasingly partisan, as Musk has not been shy about supporting controversial positions, generally trolling, welcoming back the previously banned, and even weighing in on international conflicts in ways that make a lot of people uncomfortable.
Over the last several months, I have observed a sort of ebb and flow of conversation around Twitter’s future, which in turn corresponds to an increased flurry of activity on Mastadon instances. New people sign up, existing users become more active in posting, sharing, and reintroducing themselves, and then the fediverse seems to get just a bit quieter. My own behavior roughly mirrors this, but I believe I’ll be making more of an effort to use Mastodon in the next few weeks and hope the people I want to follow will join me. Personally, I participate on https://social.librem.one (I’m katherined there) because I know it will be managed properly, and I find a number of like-minds there. There are other platforms out there vying for critical mass, of course, but Mastodon seems to be the most likely contender, though the ActivityPub landscape continues to evolve.
Now, with the Twitter acquisition deal becoming more certain and imminent, I see a completely new level of activity, both on Twitter and Mastodon. While everyone’s experience will vary, I follow a lot of people who will be done with Twitter post-acquisition. I believe the majority will remain more agnostic, continuing to use Twitter, even if begrudgingly, and as long as most of their circle of influence stays, they will as well.
What I question the most, however, is the impact on influential people who have built a massive following for personal, entertainment, or business reasons. What happens when one’s audience significantly disappears and those people have not built equal presence on other platforms, or even better, platforms that they control themselves like this one here? I mention in this week’s podcast that I took my whole personal blog down about ten years ago because I chose not to interact that way anymore. I had a few reasons for doing this, but it was largely reactionary because I discovered how terrible it can be to be a woman on the internet. Instead, I reduced much of my online interaction, but maintained a presence on Twitter and elsewhere. Now, perhaps older, wiser, and a bit tougher, I have decided to reclaim this space. What I’ll do with it remains to be seen, but it’s mine. And that’s what matters today, maybe more than ever.