Elon Musk takeover, layoffs, exile to other platforms… What’s going on at Twitter?

It was an announcement that sent shockwaves in the world of new technologies: Elon Musk, the emblematic and controversial boss of Tesla, bought the Twitter platform on October 28, for about 44 billion dollars. The billionaire, known for his tweets capable of collapsing the price of bitcoin and his eccentricities, has multiplied the blows in recent days, raising fears for the worst among platform users. Even Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has expressed regret over the platform’s takeover. “I realize a lot of people hate me,” he tweeted a few days ago.

Elon Musk has kicked the anthill, notably through a massive layoff plan that will affect “about 50%” of its 7,500 employees. Last Friday, the platform’s offices were closed, and thousands of people were notified by e-mail of their dismissal. For other employees, the shock was more severe: some discovered, sometimes in the middle of the night, that it was impossible to access their laptop or their mailbox. The hashtags #LoveWhereYouWorked or #OneTeam flourished on Twitter, where former employees expressed their sadness and concern for the future of the social network.

A freedom of expression with variable geometry

Dissolving the company’s board of directors, removing the general manager of Twitter and several other top officials… In addition to the massive layoffs managed by Elon Musk, the billionaire hastened to set up his new projects for on the platform. Among them, the relaxation of social network moderation rules, with the aim of facilitating “freedom of expression”. The promise of creating a moderation council has so far made no changes to Twitter’s current moderation policies. However, according to a study by Montclair State University, hate speech may have increased significantly after taking on Elon Musk’s platform. For many observers, Musk’s speech about freedom of expression seems to be changed according to his interests: for example, he announced to ban parody accounts that are not defined as such… While blocking parody accounts with a vengeance about him.

Another point of contention for the new Twitter boss: his desire to make certification on the paid platform, up to 8 dollars per month. A way for him to be less dependent on advertisers, and to guarantee more authenticity in the social network. In addition, this certification will allow those who get it to publish longer videos and see fewer advertisements. An announcement that displeased many users, including best-selling author Stephen King, who tweeted: “20 dollars a month to keep my certification? Fuck them, they should pay me! “. According to some sources within the company, the overhaul of the social network should come in the coming days, at the expense of tired employees, sometimes working up to 12 hours a day to keep up with the pace imposed by their new boss.

Mastodon, Bluesky: the exile of users to other platforms

On Twitter, the events of the past few days have created a wave of fear among many Internet users. And some have expressed that they want to switch to other platforms. Among them, Mastodon and Bluesky, which offer the same features as Twitter. Mastodon, which will now have more than 670,000 subscribers according to the Guardian, will gain thousands of users every day. The platform founded in 2016 by the German Eugen Rochko allows you to publish messages of 500 characters, photos and videos. The only difference: with Mastodon, you have to choose your server to register your profile there, in a decentralized way. According to some observers, the exile of Internet users to Mastodon is however uncertain, the German network probably does not have the shoulders to replace the blue bird. And above all, many Internet users admit that its operation is quite complicated.

Other Twitter alternatives include Bluesky, a platform launched in 2019 by ex-Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Currently only available in beta, the network has seen thousands of registrations on its waiting list since Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition was announced. Bluesky is also a decentralized social network, designed more for developers and other computer enthusiasts. In other words, a less intuitive platform than its historical competitor. There remains a return to some historical networks: many Internet users refer to the reliability of the forums of the past, or to networks such as Tumblr, Reddit or Discord… And if the internet of the future rested on internet before?

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