Some thoughts on Musk buying Twitter

Musk finally bought Twitter.

The outsize “importance of Twitter” is political. Most “news organisations” used Twitter to “link-out” to their websites to improve their “search engine optimisation”. Google, earlier on, realised that Twitter could be a “treasure trove of real-time information” and had placed results prominently on the search results. That had a “market-shaping behavioural change” to consider Twitter in it’s planned “media strategies”. The influx of celebrities and “influencers” burnished its credentials (even though the largest category is NSFW and politics), gaining the most traction. These trends have not withstood the test of time. Google depreciated Twitter results from its search, while most celebrities and influencers gravitated towards Instagram.

I don’t comment much on political events here. However, much hand wringing has been around the “definition” of “free-speech” and content moderation. While writing here on the blog, I became aware of “algorithmic bias” and even while the blog is auto-indexed on Twitter (only for a smattering of SEO), it doesn’t drive my website traffic. I have zero incentive to become an influencer or thought leader to “leave my legacy”. My motivation to use the web is personal enrichment and content consumption. This drives the need to define the “shortest possible pathways” for efficiency gains. I am not a social pariah, but my personal interactions are limited to define specific niche interests and people who contribute to it. This mechanism works well for me.

Therefore, why would I be opposed to Twitter? Ideally, it represents a “town-square” that “flattens the hierarchies”. These are cultural contexts and not easily juxtaposed to other geographies despite its global reach. The interaction depends on the algorithm (which Musk has promised to open-source and bring about transparency) and assigned weightage of your “followers”. My concern is more technical:

  • Twitter has been arbitrary about access to its API’s. There was an ecosystem of services that added value to the social ecosystem, but those are locked out. For example, consuming content through a defined timeline access was better than the algorithmic mess it represents, currently. There were other exciting products around the Twitter ecosystem, and currently represents a lost opportunity.
  • Twitter promotes inflammatory content to improve and increase “engagement”.
  • Organisations use it as a medium to share press releases, rather than focus on engagement!

I automate Twitter using IFTTT service, and I was lucky to lock in “legacy pricing” and it’s working well for me currently.

I can’t crystal gaze relying solely on newspaper reports. There has been a barrage of criticism of Musk’s takeover, but those frustrations appear from a “loss of agency to control” narrative defined by their political perspectives. Some, in Financial Times, have even described this as Musk’s “waterloo moment”, but these are quite dramatic pronouncements.

What is the alternative?


As again, I find it easier to list some obvious advantages:

  • No algorithm, and hence I can either build my own specific channels by automating them or utilise niche groups to understand. Groups can be automated for moderation to focus on conversations.
  • Topics (as “subgroups”) will enhance its utility. For example, having a large group for “radiation oncology” with topics dedicated to sub-sites will make interaction more granular. These updates are expected shortly within this week or early next week.
  • Excellent application for Android-they have polished the UI/UX, added more animations to improve swipe interactions, and have numerous third party clients with additional features not found on official applications. Third party apps have free access to Telegram API, and I find them easy to side-load without the hassle of having them listed in the PlayStore. They are open access (and open source) to allay concerns around “snooping”.
  • Channels allow for “live-streaming”, improving engagement with other users.
  • I usually make “round-videos”-short video segments of one minute each, or voice notes instead of touch typing, saving my time even further.

The resistance towards a new platform isn’t technical, but a lack of “network access”. These platforms allow sharing content, but you also need to procure content. Twitter (and WhatsApp) ingrain users with specific workflows, making it difficult, if not impossible, to shift and one that may require a learning curve. However, my mother has adapted well to Telegram in a short time, and she refuses to touch WhatsApp (or any other social media)!

I have a standing offer for my associates (and senior colleagues) to build public channels, automate content delivery (in real-time), automate and manage groups (through bots) and provide access to multi-media content (movies, music, books or even news).

I wish good luck to Musk for his new assignment. I hope Twitter stays the same for me, without the burden of additional levies to utilise it.

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