Three Things: Twitter Death Watch in Progress

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This could be hyperbole but it’s difficult to imagine a social media platform the size of Twitter surviving nearly 90% loss of employees across the organization inside a three-week time frame.

I certainly wouldn’t bet any of my money on it.

~ 3 ~

Thursday was the deadline Twitter’s owner Elon Musk set for remaining Twitter employees to commit to being “hardcore” for Elmo.

They were supposed to have clicked/not clicked by 5:00 p.m. to take an offer of termination with severance.

Many are choosing to walk away, their goodbyes recorded in this ongoing thread (link active at time of posting but no guarantees how long it will stay up):

Kylie Robison for Fortune Magazine reported in a Twitter thread that as much as 88% of the staff Twitter had when Musk took over on October 27 has either been fired or opted to leave.

There were employees on vacation, on medical leave, and under H1-B visa who have questions which haven’t been answered; they will not have been able to make a fair election of hardcore for Elmo or nope, thanks.

The number of employees which may fall under this category could be about 1000.

At one point it was said Musk was negotiating with a handful of key engineers critical to keeping Twitter running.

Zoe Schiffer at Platformer reported at 6:52 p.m. ET badge access had been suspended and the Twitter office buildings closed.

Her tweets leave open the possibility some of the employees who opted to leave may yet be asked to remain.

I wouldn’t hold my breath after reading BusinessInsider’s Kali Hays.

How does a company operate without payroll?

If Twitter has virtually no information security personnel, likely has no documented plan in place for dealing with this scenario, let alone failures all along the way for handling roll out of the Twitter Blue verification system which was a mess of violations all on its own, Twitter could be hammered hard by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to meet the terms of the 2011 consent agreement.

I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to say FTC has grounds to shut Twitter down right now if no users’ or advertisers’ data is secure; the FTC has shut down businesses before. Taking any money from advertisers at this point let alone users for Twitter verification or Twitter Blue would shortchange them if they expected data security.

As Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former CISO notes in this Twitter thread, it’s not just the FTC with whom Musk and Twitter will be in trouble. Twitter’s former outside counsel Riana Pfefferkorn agrees there are big problems and has more to add.

And Elmo’s response to all of this is shitposting.

Not even his own shitposting; he stole the meme from another user.

With total staffing and capabilities up in the air, will Twitter survive into the World Cup which begins on this coming Sunday November 20?

I won’t even put money on that.

~ 2 ~

Marcy wrote recently about Elmo’s forced marriage. Looking at the timeline of events leading up to the closing of the Twitter acquisition, there was certainly something iffy in the way Elmo avoided a background check and due diligence when offered a seat on the board of directors in April, and in the way he hustled out of Delaware’s Chancery Court in October where discovery might have revealed all that wasn’t back in April.

@capitolhunters found some embarrassing information about Elmo which might explain his skittishness. It’s public record but unless one is determined to find it, it won’t surface readily.

Read the entire thread at the Internet Archive; I wouldn’t count on it being available at Twitter. It may have been shadow banned at one point earlier Thursday evening as I couldn’t pull it up.

Is it possible the lack of qualifications and credentials as well as his former status as an illegal immigrant are the reasons why Musk appeared to avoid a background check and due diligence?

Is this a compelling reason he should not have been able to purchase Twitter to begin with — because he could be compromised because of repeated misrepresentations about his background?

~ 1 ~

If you’re a regular Twitter user, you may wish to see something constructive done and soon. There are entire communities of people who can’t just switch to another platform because they’ve had small businesses built up around their Twitter presence. There are minority groups who have difficulty switching to different platforms; without Twitter they lose contact with others in their minority community.

One only need look at the mass shooting at University of Virginia last weekend and the confusion about verification on Twitter to realize how serious the loss of Twitter’s integrity as a utility is to much of the U.S. — and it’s not just the U.S.

I recommend checking @Celeste_pewter’s Twitter thread for action items including calling your senator.

(There’s a copy of her thread at the Internet Archive just in case the original one at Twitter becomes unavailable.)

~ 0 ~

I can’t help think of two things:

— Oil producing countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE financed a considerable portion of Musk’s purchase of Twitter, with Prince al Waleed being the second largest investor. Did they do it for an investment, for access to a media space to promote their agenda, or because they saw a way to screw with one of the most popular electric car manufacturers by giving its compromised CEO the means to fuck himself?

— Text messages produced as part of discovery in Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk included messages between Musk and his ex-wife Talulah (Jane) Riley in which she begged him to buy Twitter and delete it because Twitter had banned conservative satire site Babylon Bee. Riley had discussed the banning with her close friend Raiyah Bint Al-Hussein, wife of British journalist Ned Donovan, and half-sister to King Abdullah II of Jordan. Why would a British actress like Riley be so upset about an American conservative website’s banning by a U.S. social media platform?

92 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Boosted on I don’t know if Justin Wolfers is on Mastodon. Enjoyed this chuckle too much to leave it at the bird app.

    RT Justin Wolfers (@[email protected])
    We’re finally going to see a Musk product in self-driving mode.

    8:33 PM · November 17, 2022

  2. mvario says:

    Thanks, this brings together the mayhem I witnessed last night on Twitter.

    By the way, someone over there must have been reading things, it seems that their TLS cert was renewed on the Nov 14.

  3. Peterr says:

    That Internet Archive thread about Elon lying about his background and credentials is really interesting. It’s not that he told lies to his pals or to the media or to the world. What will bite him is that he told lies to the SEC.

    That puts people in personal legal danger. Fines, prohibitions on future business activities, and even jail kind of dangers.

    • Rwood0808 says:

      “Elon Musk went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he received bachelor’s degrees in physics and economics in 1997.”

      • P J Evans says:

        That’s what on Wikipedia. I’m now wondering…
        But he isn’t an engineer, or a network/systems guy. And he certainly isn’t an HR guy.

      • Snowdog of the North says:

        “Physics and economics” – except for the physics part. The Twitter link referenced shows his actual diplomas from Penn obtained in discovery in a lawsuit – one is a BS in economics and the other is a BA with no department specified.

      • Tom-1812 says:

        According to a glowing article by Robin Keats in the Queen’s Alumni Review from Feb. 2, 2013, Musk originally considered attending the University of Waterloo, also in southern Ontario, but it was “his keen eye for members of the opposite sex” that persuaded him to choose Queen’s because there were more female students there. Musk explained: “I didn’t want to spend my undergraduate time with a bunch of dudes.”

      • taluslope says:

        I can say as a physicist that Musk frames questions like someone with training in physics would. He may not have the degrees but has either taken classes or is widely read. But more importantly he has probably spent time discussing problems with physicists (at SpaceX perhaps?). Musk’s has a keen mind and shouldn’t be underestimated.


        According to Kara Swisher:
        [] Musk’s mind has been poisoned by Twitter. She’s done several interviews with him and says that he has changed. I highly recommend listening to this.

        But he reminds me of Trump: a narcissist and a compulsive liar. No SpaceX is not landing a human on Mars (in 2 years was it) and no Tesla is not going to have autonomous driving cars (always seems to be 3 months away) and no solar shingles wasn’t really a product, but more a way to convince Tesla stock holders to bail out SolarCity.

        Speaking of Tesla’s autonomous driving software “Auto Pilot”. It tried to kill me several times driving from Reno to Salt Lake City last month because my new Model 3 was afraid of shadows (see phantom braking, Maybe Musk isn’t such a great physicist after all. He decided to remove radar sensors and rely on just cameras. It was pretty obvious to me that the cameras were seeing streaks of shadows on a bright road and interpreting them as 3D objects. A radar would clearly show no 3D object present.

        However, the Model 3 is not a bad car. I preferred driving the Kia eV 6 but a Tesla is really the only choice at the moment because of the Tesla supercharger network. In a year of two that will change and I’ll probably trade for something else. But gas cars absolutely don’t compare; I knew 7 years ago after two minutes driving my VW eGolf that I’d never go back. The quiet, smooth acceleration with no gas fumes, no oil changes and 30-40 miles on $1.00 of electricity is wonderful. And soon solar panels on my roof will power my cars! Musk deserves credit for affecting the transition away from fossil fuels.

        • Rayne says:

          Because of the way the blog’s infrastructure is configured, I read comments in reverse chrono order. NOW, after reading your later comments, I come to this one and you make a point for me about Musk fail.

          Being a physicist does not make you an expert on human nature. That’s for you to grasp.

          Claiming one is a physicist does not make one an expert on human nature. That’s what Musk is proving in everything he’s done related to a software company built to monetize human interaction.

          All you have to say about either Tesla’s or SpaceX’s products means nothing with regard to Musk’s relationships with other humans as employees or as customers and consumers of Twitter, because the laws of physics do not apply to human interaction.

          Musk walked in the door at Twitter, fired half the employees, and began focusing on latency in the platform, which was absolutely NOT the bottleneck on profitability. Faster bullshit does not yield more revenue, just faster bullshit.

          • taluslope says:

            What! I’m not an expert on human nature? Perhaps my wife will agree with you.

            Regarding Musk and Twitter actions: His decisions on software make no sense whatsoever (others have also pointed this out) so maybe he is trying to bankrupt Twitter. I repeat myself; Musk is not stupid. He MAY understand enough about human nature to realize what he is doing.

            Somewhat unrelated: Since it was apparently so obvious to everyone here that the Twitter purchase WAS going through, why didn’t everyone buy Twitter stock at around $40 when you knew it would sell for $54.20?

            I did! I wanted to claim that Musk personally paid me money. And he did. However, then I realized that I outsmarted myself. I still have a few Tesla shares left and lost much more on Musk tanking Tesla stock than I did on Twitter. Oh well, guess I’m not as smart as I thought I was :-(

  4. Raven Eye says:

    Musk has a number of federal contracts, and operates in a number of federally regulated “domains”. Senior staff at those contracting and regulating departments and agencies aren’t blind to Musk’s (apparently) erratic behavior and the potential for this to spill over into their lanes. What kind of communications is going on now among contraction officers, auditors, and IGs?

    • Rayne says:

      That, right there — federal contracts in which he’s misrepresented himself. It’s not the erratic behavior they’re likely writing off as quirky rich people stuff or being on the spectrum. It’s that they probably didn’t know about the lies because they’ve been swept up, glossed over by so many who want a piece of the hype that built the persona Musk.

      • -mamake- says:

        Eliz Holmes (Theranos) sentencing today – touted on NPR (Bay Area locals perhaps) to be the ‘biggest fraud in the valley’s history…” What?!

        The story segues to Twitter debacle & offices shut down w/ nary a scent of journalistic shame. Wow.

        FWIW, the internet archive link about EM’s history was a dead end this morning.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          I’m not a Musk fanboy, but I think the comparison is unfair: Teslas and Falcons do actually work, and Theranos never created a product that could live up to its advertising.

          • -mamake- says:

            Not always fair – as I have too much contempt for tech bro world and what they have destroyed and/or stolen (environmentally, culturally, socially etc…).

            But to be clear, which I wasn’t, I was referring to his fraudulent story, and more generally comparing the inflation and mythologizing of individuals to the detriment of many.

            • Troutwaxer says:

              I generally agree with you about tech-bros, but I’m gonna channel bmaz and suggest we bias the site towards accuracy.

          • taluslope says:

            I’ve asked myself why Holmes gets 11 years and new tech startups frequently overpromise and underdeliver. I think it must be more than a woman in a man’s world but maybe that played a role. Was it because it was a medical device?

            I’ve listened to AI researchers say autonomous driving will never work with current AI technology (neural nets) yet Musk is selling it for $15K a car and it requires full hands on and full attention. However Musk claims it is a bargain and better get it now as the price will soon go up to $200K because you will be able to robotaxi your car (not a verb; I made it up).

            • Rayne says:

              Musk apparently hasn’t killed or maimed enough people *yet* and/or has better lawyers *so far* and/or his luck hasn’t run out *yet*.

              Theranos did quite a bit of damage to consumers though most likely had second tests and opinions to prevent the damage from getting worse.

              At its peak, Theranos operated 40 centers inside Walgreens stores in metro Phoenix and sold more than 1.5 million blood tests that yielded 7.8 million test results for nearly 176,000 consumers.

              But court documents state slightly more than 1 in 10 test results were voided or corrected, and some patients claim in lawsuits that they were harmed by inaccurate test results.


      • taluslope says:

        Seems we are all suddenly piling on Musk?

        1. Love of twitter?
        2. Musk tried to broker peace in the Middle East (sorry, my bad, Ukraine)?
        3. Musk switched from saving the world to Republican?
        4. He is very rich?
        5. We just noticed he is a jerk?

        Put me down for 2-5. But if he had only campaigned for Democrats I might find it in myself to forgive him, perhaps.

          • taluslope says:

            I used to verge on being a fanboy; radically switched sides and rather suddenly, so I’m asking myself why above.

            Sure Musk “deserves no apologia,” however, he may deserve some compassion. I think like Trump he is deeply insecure and money and fame have ruined him. I tell my kids, I’d rather my grandchildren grow up poor than rich. They will be “richer” for it.

            Since it is Sunday, let me point out that Jesus cursed the rich and blessed the poor. Now 2000 years later we are getting in on the action.

  5. Rwood0808 says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Elon’s purchase of Twitter has nothing to do with money and everything to do with consolidating power? His backers in this are almost all foreigners and primarily middle eastern. (Big money) They have a vested interest in leveraging the dollar.

    I remember when Musk proposed the “Everything App”. A combination of social media and a web-based banking system, that would not only challenge the dollar in every way possible but give him and his close group of like-minded authoritarian types immense power. (Read: Thiel)

    The money has gone to his head, as it often does for these billionaire “geniuses”, but this on a scale few have envisioned. Elon thinks he’s a “chosen one”. He feels his wealth and influence have elevated him to such status, and since authoritarianism supports such a hierarchy he has no problem promoting it. And since he’s the “Worlds Richest Man” he thinks he should be the leader by default. He’ll push Twitter as a gift to the people. I seem him comparing it to email or the internet itself soon. But that’s just a disguise.

    What we have here is a real-life Bond villain. The ends justify the means and he’ll push for them until he is stopped. Twitter may be just a piece of a large machine he is building.

    • Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

      I personally subscribe to the theory that he bought it to let the saudis steal every bit of data they could and then he would destroy it to cover the theft

      • bmaz says:

        I’m sorry, but do you have one shred of evidence for this? If so, make it known. This is not some bullshit AOL or Reddit chatroom.

        • Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

          Well I don’t have a good explanation for why the saudis would pour in so much money unless to use it for something sinister. Only other reason I can come up with Elmo wanting to buy Twitter is to get out from under the consent decrees against him and Tesla, but no amount of him using Twitter to goose. Tesla stock price will make up for what’s he’s lost. So that doesn’t make sense either. But all the data stored by Twitter, imagine what that’s worth. Elmo have free access to all the raw data, and I’m sure Elmo would have rather eaten then billion dollar loss Rather than go through with it. He needed a good reason and motivation.

            • Rayne says:

              You’re assuming Saudi (and Qatar and UAE) investors must make a profit as an indicator of their astuteness.

              They may instead be protecting the main source of their income which is fossil fuel, taking a more devious approach a la Jack Welch at General Electric in the 1980s. GOP strategist Karl Rove encouraged Welch’s acquisition of NBC as a means of promulgating tax policies favorable to U.S. corporations. If the outcome was tax policy which reaped profits after tax exceeding the investment in the network, GE succeeded. One only needs to look at the amount of taxes GE paid out in the 1990s-2000s to see this tack may have worked.

              Musk’s financiers are shutting down dissent to fossil fuel production and use. It’s that simple, and it pays off quickly. Aramco made $44B in 3Q2022, IIRC — the amount invested in Twitter is chump change.

              • EwanWoodsEnd says:

                I understand this is possible. But it is also possible that a general investment strategy is to put money in a lot of high risk and possibly high reward (political and/or financial) opportunities, without due diligence, and see what sticks. An a posteriori analysis might show that this is reckless, and that a more thoughtful allocation of funds could bring bigger returns (both financial and political) but they don’t have do to such an analysis, since no one is asking them.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Someone on another site (author Charles Stross’s blog) pointed out that Elon’s behavior is typical of someone who’s not getting enough sleep – irritibility, snap decisions, poor reasoning, etc. Musk famously gets by on four hours a night, but that’s not sustainable into middle age, which is rapidly approaching for him. His behavior might also be explainable by over-consumption of certain substances, but I’ve got no evidence for that… it might merely be ten years of consuming multiple Red Bulls or similar every day and the simultaneous effects of stimulants and sleep loss.

      Or he could just be a rich asshole.

    • Pat5569 says:

      I think Elmo decided to buy Twitter out of pure spite. People on Twitter insulted him and the site refused to take those tweets down.

      Having reached the status of being one of the world’s richest assholes, he proceeded to burn a large (but still less than half) chunk of his worth to make them pay. When one lacks any kind of meaningful relationship to anyone else, that kind of malignant narcissism may become appealing.

  6. pH unbalanced says:

    I know it’s on a completely different scale, but I’m getting very strong “MMO shutdown” vibes from this. You put years into building your character and your guild, and then one day *poof* it just all vanishes, leaving you with nothing but memories.

    The service running it always try to convince you differently, but everything on the internet is ephemeral. (Except my livejournal is apparently still out there somewhere. )

    • Troutwaxer says:

      If that’s the case, then Elon merely caught the hot-potato, which I misdoubt for all kinds of obvious reasons. In that case, he’d have done better to pay his lawyers enough to keep him from buying the site until after it imploded, which was his plan after he realized he hadn’t done due diligence… I wonder how deciding not to get out of buying Twitter ties in with the idea that he bought the site to sack it?

  7. Molly Pitcher says:

    For some amazing photos of what is being projected on the outside of the Twitter HQ in San Francisco, along with memes from former employees see politicaljunkyard2.0 on IG. Space Karen is a particular highlight.

    My son spoke with several ,now former, employees last night, and they said that as the zoom meeting with Musk was happening, screens started going black as people opted out in mid-sentence. Some former engineers are saying they don’t even know if the site will make it through the weekend without crashing.

  8. Novembirdie says:

    Along with what Molly Pitcher just said, the shutdown of all badges left some employees trapped in a parking garage in Sunnyvale. The badges open the parking arm to enter/exit. A former employee had to be called in to assist.

  9. Troutwaxer says:

    What I would say at this point, based on my own technical knowledge, is that Twitter is possibly an unsafe site and will rapidly grow less-safe. If it’s currently possible under whatever legal regime you live under, remove all personal information from the site, and erase all your tweets. (This probably won’t do anything useful for you, but it’s worth a try.) Without a security team, Twitter is certainly very vulnerable to hackers/crackers right now – computers like Twitter’s which are already major targets need daily security updates* – and merely connecting to the site, particularly with a Windows or MacIntosh computer could be dangerous to you and your data – the risk of identity theft for this site is now much higher than I’m comfortable with.

    If nothing else (and believe me, there’s plenty of else!) every intelligence service in the world is hacking Twitter right now!

    * Sometimes multiple security updates per day, some of them by nature manual, which in a site the size of Twitter’s need to be first tried out manually, then automated and tested once devised, not to mention that routers/switches are also involved with security, so we’re talking about multiple operating systems here, and suffice to say computer/network security is a very complicated subject no longer being attended to by experts!

    • Jazz Handler says:

      A big safety concern I’m not seeing discussed yet as this thing goes into full self driving mode: malware served directly to users. Think about the times that somebody snuck something spicy into self-serve advertising platforms and managed to infect a few percent of visitors to some mainstream news sites in the minutes or hours before it was discovered. Now imagine somebody gaining access to one or more of the thousands of webserver instances around the world that are now unsupervised.

      I don’t know enough about Twitter’s infrastructure to speculate in any real detail about how that could work, and cybersecurity isn’t my area of expertise. But I am as certain as I can be that multiple parties are working on exactly this effort at this very moment. How sure can we be that Twitter will successfully defend against 100% of those efforts after losing 100% of their security people?

      • Troutwaxer says:

        BTW, I should modify my suggestions to everyone on the subject of trying to get your information off Twitter. You should only attempt data removal if you’re currently fighting against an authoritarian regime or have information on the site which could be used against you in some ugly fashion. Otherwise just stop posting there. Don’t, under any circumstances, visit post-Musk Twtter on a work computer, particularly if you work under any kind of data-retention laws such as HIPPA.

        If you must go on the site, do so only if you live in a country where Twtter is legally required to forget you.

        I would not expect the process I describe below to damage the average computer, but we’re dealing with complex technology and electricity, so I make no guarantees whatsoever that your hardware or data will be safe. If your computer breaks I can’t do more than suggest you call (and pay) your local technician for whatever repairs are required.

        The process is this:

        Turn off the computer and unplug it. Physically disconnect any hard drives or SSDs on your computer, then plug the computer back in and boot the computer off a Linux USB stick. (Ubuntu will do just fine.) Use a USB stick you can dispose of afterwards.

        Using the built-in browser, which is probably Chrome or Firefox, visit Twtter using this computer and attempt to remove your data. Do not, under any circumstances, visit any other site using this computer after visiting Twtter, particularly sites where you have a login and password. Hopefully Twtter won’t send an email to verify your use of a new device. If so you’ll have to manually copy the URL onto the computer you’re using for your Twtter visit. Do not, under any circumstance, follow the link from the device where you’ve gotten your email.

        Turn the computer off and unplug it. If your computer has a BIOS battery, remove it as well. If possible, temporarily remove the memory chips from this computer (and put them in an anti-static bag if you have one.) Leave the computer, BIOS battery and memory chips disconnected for at least an hour. (If you’re really feeling paranoid, disconnect the power supply from the motherboard for this hour.)

        After the hour is up, plug your hard drive/SSD back in. Put the memory chips and BIOS battery back on the motherboard, and plug the power supply back into your motherboard if you removed it. Plug your computer back in and use it normally – you’re as safe as you could possibly be after visiting Twtter. Destroy the Linux USB stick you used to boot the computer for this.

  10. Badger Robert says:

    How long will the advertisers that use Twitter hang around? How long before all the government users abandon the platform? That’s Rayne, for this powerful update.
    Mastodon the next step?

  11. DaveC2022 says:

    When I write my Senator about Twitter, my 1st ask will be for him to bring his office up on Mastodon. (Both my Senators are guys ¯\_(ツ)_/. ). Then I will ask for Fair Credit Report ing Act and bankruptcy reform to minimize consumer risks in the future. Seems too much to hope in the near term to ask for comprehensive data privacy protection.

  12. Rick Ryan says:

    Two unrelated items:

    1. One tiny, ancillary detail that I am finding increasingly perplexing: New York Times hasn’t sent a “Breaking News” email about the Twitter exodus yet, going on 24 hours later. I see they do have an article up (just updated, not sure when originally published). This suggests three possibilities: (a) they don’t consider it particularly important news, (b) they haven’t (or until moments ago, hadn’t) been able to confirm the exodus, or (c) they decided to sit on the news (presumably for access-maintaining reasons).

    Possibility (b) seems unlikely since numerous reliable reports were posted to Twitter, but Twitter did happen to just destroy its own credibility assurance mechanism, so maybe not. (a) seems impossible to sensible people, but these are old, “traditional journalism” editors, so maybe not. (c) seems definitely in-play, but also small potatoes to the point of pointlessness (that news will be impossible to suppress before too long, so why bother?). Like I said: perplexing.

    2. Intentionally demolishing Twitter’s functionality immediately before the World Cup is one of the greatest, ahem, own goals in media history.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Elmo doesn’t seem to care whether Twtr continues as a going concern. Arguably, he wants to bury it, notwithstanding the debt he incurred to vastly overpay for it.

    Yes, his conduct is personal and vindictive, but his hatred for labor, his extreme version of capitalism, and his gargantuan narcissism don’t seem sufficient to explain his bizarre behavior. Lots of over-fed capitalists share those views. That opens the door for non-economic explanations and who would really pay for its demise. Silencing progressive, pro-labor, and journalistic voices would be favorites among the billionaire and foreign potentate classes. Abusing mountains of personal data users will leave behind would appeal to many corporations. “Forcing” Elmo to replace Twtr with something new and focused on very different objectives might be a reason. WTFK.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Assuming this speculation is correct, expect Twitter’s database to be used as collateral to pay back an investor and maybe multiple investors. (This is why everyone should stay off social media.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        For most of the world, staying off social media is not feasible. A better solution is to regulate it, especially with GDPR-like rules.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          That would work too, with total transparency for the code. (It’s not like the average HTML website is doing anything special where programming is concerned.)

          • P J Evans says:

            It’s a lot of databases and connections between them. That’s part of the trouble. The other part, and Elmo doesn’t get this at all, is site security: keeping bad guys out, keeping people from seeing info they should see, all that. And, of course, all the servers needed to keep it running and the disks to back it up. For hundreds of millions of people all over the world.

            • Troutwaxer says:

              I clicked on this by accident. (I’m really trying to stay off Twitter these days, and thank God my Linux instance is up to date.) But the list of bad stuff that can happen is absolutely correct about all the things that can go bad.

              BTW, my blocker plugin on Firefox has blocked 190 attempts to gather information since I accidentally connected to this series of tweets. And BTW, I’ve got to run all my security stuff right now!

              • Troutwaxer says:

                By the time I’d gotten off the Twitter page my uBlock plugin had stopped 239 attempts to gather information. For comparison’s sake, in roughly the same time-period YouTube, which is very much not privacy-friendly, had tried only 32 times to gather information. My guess at this point is that Twitter is thoroughly borked!

        • BroD_in_Balto says:

          “For most of the world, staying off social media is not feasible.”
          Funny, I don’t understand how that is true but then I live in a different world.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Billions of people in the developing world have few alternative means of communicating with each other and coordinating action in opposition to oppression, or to being ignored by their governments.

        • e. a. foster says:

          Regulate entities such as twitter. Good idea. Not all countries would be interested but there are countries which would be and they can start.
          Establishing who owns the information, what happens to it if the company closes, etc. what maybe retained and for how long.

          We regulate electricity, t.v., banks, health care, radio, newspapers, why not entites such as twitter.

  14. Troutwaxer says:

    I’ve been thinking about this, and I’m beginning to wonder whether Musk’s purchase of Twitter is one of those neoliberal experiments, like the takeover of Iraq in 2003. Most of us probably recall that the Bush administration removed most of the worker-protection and consumer-protection aspects of Iraqi law as it existed under Saddam Hussein with the idea that it would turn into a Libertarian/Neoliberal paradise. Then they fired all the party members, including teachers and low-level bureaucrats, allowed women to be removed from their jobs (i.e. Riverbend – does anyone remember her?) and put a bunch of just-out-of-college Republican kids in charge.

    Iraq is now a Neoliberal/Libertarian paradise. (Just ask any member of Isis.)

    I think Musk is trying similar strategies at Twitter. It’s one of those grand experiments meant to prove that Libertarianism and/or Noeliberalism are actually workable philosophies rather than the mental-masturbations of those who operate at the level of college sophomores with more money than sense. If it doesn’t work it’s because Objectivism can’t fail, it can only be failed.

    You can expect the company to be a libertarian paradise any time now.*

    *No, I’m not giving this paragraph a snark tag. If it wasn’t obvious to you, don’t waste my time with a reply.

    • Rapier says:

      No, it’s beyond neoliberalism. In fact it is anti neoliberal because neoliberalism assumes the managerial or administrative corporate forms of organization. Where layers and layers of workers have some authority and independence. Not much and then too, everyone knows that everyone is out for themselves.

      In Musk’s, or Bannon’s conception if you will, or the growing embrace of Caesarism, and far worse, all workers in all organizations must be in obedience to the leader. Ideally one who knows everything, like Elon Musk for instance. By melding their utmost efforts to one cause greatness will be achieved. Look at Tesla or Space X. See what can be accomplished if workers are not out for themselves but instead focus on the goals of the leader. As long as people throw vast sums of money to them.

      No, this is a far different thing than neoliberalism and it’s partnership of the corporate and governmental and NGO managerial classes who create the ‘markets’.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        How about neoreactionism in the sense of Peter Thiel or Curtis Yavin (Mencius Moldbug?) Does that fit better? Because I’d go there.

      • Rayne says:

        It wasn’t neoliberalism. It was universal fascism espoused by neoconservative Michael Ledeen in which he embraced and encouraged the concept of “creative destruction.”

        Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence—our existence, not our politics—threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission.


        Do not buy into Bannon’s labels because he’s full of bullshit and doesn’t want to be labeled a fascist, yet that’s exactly what he is, doing exactly what Ledeen wanted but without the neoconservative mask.

        Musk is just as bad for his acts of creative destruction, but for different reasons: he has no fucking coherent idea what the hell he’s doing. He’s only intent on feeding his ego.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          I don’t really worry about what to call it. Privately I think of these various, ugly philosophies as “The Ideology of the Spoiled.” Whatever you call it the conditions are the same; “Freedom for me and not for thee,” with the only differences being matters of degree and details of implementation.

            • Troutwaxer says:

              I have a certain grumpy respect for real Libertarians, because they’re against outlawing or prosecuting “victimless” crimes like drug use, prostitution, etc., both in the name of increasing liberties and avoiding the use of “victimless” crime to attack LGBTQ-folk, people of color, “hippies,” women, etc. This particular bit of thinking constitutes a better critique of the system than either Republicans or Democrats can muster.

              But the rest of their philosophy is (and this is my kindest critique) utterly unable to deal with bad actors, and don’t get me started on their ideas about employment, most of which are (once again, being very kind) unworkable.

                • Troutwaxer says:

                  Yeah, pretty much. I probably should have written something yesterday about how much I enjoyed your post about that. In fact, it made enough of an impression on me that I accused my cat, Toulouse, of being a Libertarian this morning after he peed in my slippers.

                  Did you know that there are two kinds of Libertarians? Those that don’t know Ayn Rand was writing fiction, and those who don’t know Heinlein was writing fiction.

                  • Rayne says:

                    I miss my cat but I’ll probably never have another furry libertarian again. I love how they have two default responses after they’ve peed in your slippers/knocked over an expensive vase/eaten a favorite houseplant: “Oh that thing? Was it important or something?” stare or “But muh free speech!” speedy exit.

                    • Troutwaxer says:

                      Agreed. No more cats. (Fortunately, my wife and I discovered, after awful cats, that we are both dog people.)

  15. Legonaut says:

    I’m seeing today that Elmo is conducting a Twitter poll: “Reinstate former President Trump? Y/N”

    (Well, at least he used “former”.)

    This seems like the worst way to make this decision. Apparently, he can’t find or keep the folks to constitute the policy board he promised would make these choices. Has Donald Trump changed his tune and stopped spouting the nonsense that got him banned in the first place, or has it in fact got worse?

    Instead, he appeals to the wisdom of the mob for a fig leaf to justify whatever decision he was going to make anyway. (Note that both the yeas and the nays will say this.) He’s setting himself up for yet another no-win scenario, guaranteed to piss off a lot of Twitter users and hasten the exodus.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Elmo doesn’t care what opinion polls say, except when he can manipulate them to favor his views. Media are full of reports about what he does to those who hold contrary views.

      His purpose in eliciting a poll about Trump would most likely be to act as cover for what he’s already decided to do: allow Trump’s return – already approved, as it turns out – in order to drive revenue from the mob. Fascist dictators do the same.

    • Rayne says:

      My Mastodon feed was full of newer users who said they had deleted/deactivated their account tonight. Also noted someone whose name escapes me now who researches right-wing hate groups and speech, said they would now have to follow Twitter because of Trump’s reinstatement. 4chan-like speech has been popping up without any moderation pushing it back.

      • Clare Kelly says:

        “ Also noted someone whose name escapes me now who researches right-wing hate groups and speech, said they would now have to follow Twitter because of Trump’s reinstatement”

        This is a catch 22, imho, and one shared by SPLC, among others, including myself.

        I do not know the solution to said.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I continue to be darkly amused that anyone still calls what Elon Musk does, “management.” If your neighbor did the same things to neighborhood pets, you’d call the cops on him.

      • Clare Kelly says:

        Given that Elmo was indeed my “neighbor”, I did call
        “the cops on him”.

        I’m a fairly patient person in terms of results.

        Ok. Not so much “patient” as persistent.

  17. Clare Kelly says:

    Admittedly out of possible laziness/ my current time constraints, I should have found a way to email a request to you regarding your opinion on the following airing today of:

    Flipping The Bird
    November 18, 2022
    Where Political Reporting Goes Wrong
    Inside the Meltdown at Twitter 2.0
    Musk And The International Reach of Twitter

    Mastodon: The Platform Taking Twitter’s Worn and Weary

    Clare Kelly
    (Yes. I have an opinion but I would rather hear yours)

    • Clare Kelly says:

      …and, of course, MTW’s opinion should she find the time to weigh in.

      Prior to my leaving twitter last December, I was mostly on Twitter to follow @emptywheel and @DavidNeiwert.

      I was honored for the follow backs under a variation of my handle @Civildiscourse7.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for the link. Let me listen to this and get back to you with a reply here. Might not be tonight, sorry.

      • Clare Kelly says:

        Ty 4 your consideration.

        Your timeline exceeds my expectations.


        Apology unnecessary, yet appreciated.

        It may not warrant comment, yet I thought it might interest the community.

  18. cmeier says:

    I’ve worked IT for everything from small startups to multinationals for 30+ years. This post pretty well captures why Twitter is doomed:

    I’ve seen a lot of people asking “why does everyone think Twitter is doomed?

    As an SRE and sysadmin with 10+ years of industry experience, I wanted to write up a few scenarios that are real threats to the integrity of the bird site over the coming weeks.

    [FYI – edited for clarity. /~Rayne]

  19. e.a.foster says:

    Rayne’s two senario questions are very interesting. It confirms I’m not crazy, sort of.
    During this entire “play/peformance” it crossed the mind that there was more going on then we were hearing about. Really, who pays $44Billion to then destroy a company. It doesn’t make sense. Whether Musk is arragont, out to lunch, bat shit crazy, etc. doesn’t matter. No one buys a company for $44B to destroy it unless they have an agenda.

    It could be argued Musk didn’t care about those who might be deported or others who had family members who were unwell would loose their health care. Its possible. On the other hand a number of people around the world will be every so happy to see twitter go away and the Saudi’s are most likely one group which will. Not the citizens but the leadership.

    The pay roll department isn’t there anymore/????? That does not bode well for those who are owed not just salary, but vacation pay, and expenses. Perhaps Musk believes he can simply ignore that all. If the company were to go bankrupt the former workers would not receive their wages, etc. any how. Siphon the money off and put it some where. He and others might just be using this as a test run to see what happens when you crash a $44B communications company, which is world wide.

    Never thought about Musk’s background. He was just there, owned an electric car company and wasn’t that attractive or smart or interesting. He could however be the best scammer the world has ever known. We can only wait and see how this plays out.

    So was Musk used or was Muisk part of the plan. Its not like he is big on free speech

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Elmo believes the rapacious business school speak that destruction is fundamentally creative. In fact, it’s a cover story for pillage and accountability-free resource extraction. The claim ignores the difference between finding the needle-in-hay stack positive outcome from inevitable destruction and intentionally using it as the preferred way to extract value. The latter argument must be what Columbus said to everyone he encountered on Hispaniola, an argument repeated by Robber Barons and their ilk ever since. If Elmo valued Twitter as a going concern, he would not have bought it.

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