Twitter is hunting for its soul as the acquisition of Muska approaches

Twitter is hunting for its soul as the acquisition of Muska approaches

A toxic waste dump. It’s a lifeline. The pulse of the world’s population. Politicians, journalists, activists, celebrities, weirdos and normies, cat and puppy lovers, and just about everyone else with an internet connection – Twitter is all of these things and more to its over 217 million users across the world.

Twitter is hunting for its soul as the acquisition of Muska approaches

Whether and how the takeover will happen is anyone’s guess. On Friday, Musk announced that the deal is “on hold,” while tweeting that he was still “committed” to it. Earlier in the week, the billionaire Tesla CEO said he’d reverse the platform’s ban of President Donald Trump if his purchase goes through. The same day, he also said he supported a new European Union law aimed at protecting social media users from harmful content. Twitter’s current CEO, meanwhile, fired two top managers on Thursday.

Twitter is a “de facto town square” in desperate need of a libertarian makeover for Elon Musk, its greatest troll and probably most prolific user, whose takeover of the firm is on increasingly unstable foundation.

“Twitter at its highest levels has always been chaos. It has always had intrigue and it has always had drama,” says Leslie Miley, a former Twitter engineering manager. “This,” he says, “is in Twitter’s DNA.”

From its 2007 start as a scrappy “microblogging service” at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, Twitter has always punched above its weight.

‘WHAT PEOPLE ARE THINKING ABOUT’

At a time when its rivals count their users by the billions, it has stayed small, frustrating Wall Street and making it easier for Musk to swoop in with an offer its board could not refuse.

But Twitter also wields unrivaled influence on news, politics and society thanks to its public nature, its simple, largely text-based interface and its sense of chronological immediacy.

“It’s a potluck of pithy self-expression simmering with whimsy, narcissism, voyeurism, hucksterism, tedium and sometimes useful information,” Associated Press technology writer Michael Liedtke wrote in a 2009 story about the company. Twitter had 27 employees at the time, and its most popular user was Barack Obama.

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