Elon Musk just spent a whopping $44 billion on Twitter, a social media platform with nearly 400 million users around the globe.So, what are his day one priorities? Apparently, they consist of looking into a complaint from an anonymous right-wing troll about how they lost 1,200 followers the other day.Late Thursday night, the deal was finally sealed between Elon Musk and Twitter, ending a months-long saga which resulted in Musk overpaying to acquire the platform and taking it private. Musk took to Twitter last night to announce the change in ownership with a tweet. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) “the bird is freed,” posted Musk.
Elon Musk, customer support representative
His very next tweet — which was his very first reply to another user as Twitter’s new owner — was a response to the anonymous right-wing Twitter user “@catturd2,” a user who was frequently retweeted by former president Donald Trump before Trump was suspended from the platform in January 2021.The tweet that Musk responded to was a complaint from @catturd2 saying he was “still Shadowbanned, ghostbanned, searchbanned, and Twitter removed 1200 followers today – as usual.” It’s worth noting that @catturd2 has more than 850,000 followers and that his tweet had tens of thousands of likes before Musk even replied to it. These are huge numbers that would put him in the upper echelon of Twitter users, making his claims of being persecuted by Twitter pretty nonsensical.Nevertheless, Musk personally reached out. Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) “I will be digging in more today,” replied Musk.After Musk’s reply, @catturd2 quickly responded that he gained thousands of followers and chalked it up to Twitter’s new owner for quickly making changes that enabled this. Logically minded individuals would note that @catturd2 likely gained followers because Musk replied to him and not because sweeping changes were made to the Twitter algorithm within the 20-minute time span in which this all occurred.Is Musk going to personally respond to every influential right-wing figure in order to help satiate their complete misunderstanding of how social media works? Time will tell.Musk did say that one of his goals at Twitter would be to take on bots and fake accounts. But the question remains: How is he going to remove these accounts without angering the @catturd2s of Twitter? Everyone on the platform (and across the political divide) has at least a few fake followers. And the larger the account, the more fake followers they have. If Musk follows through on his plan, accounts like @catturd2 will certainly blame him for the removal of hundreds of thousands of fake followers. How will Musk respond to attacks from right-wing accounts then?
Elon Musk needs to solve the Elon Musk problem
But Musk actually has a more pressing problem to attend to: Himself.Early Thursday morning, Elon Musk tweeted a statement out to Twitter advertisers who expressed concern over continuing their marketing on Musk’s version of Twitter. He attempted to calm their fears by claiming he would not let Twitter become a “free-for-all hellscape” and said his plans are a response to fears social media would splinter into partisan echo chambers. But, Elon Musk is obviously in a right-wing echo chamber himself. Musk’s personal texts, which were released as part of the original Twitter trial proceedings, show him texting with a number of right-wing partisans, some of whom even recommended he hire current Republican congressional candidates. Another interesting conversation gleaned from Musk’s court-submitted texts has to do with one contact who is allegedly his ex-wife Talulah Riley. The two were conversing about the Twitter suspension of a conservative (self-proclaimed) parody website that misgenders trans people, an account that was in violation of Twitter’s rules at the time.”Please do something to fight woke-ism,” Musk’s contact begged him.
His own personal right-wing echo chamber
Musk is clearly surrounded by right-wingers. And his day one attempt to investigate a right-wing user’s follower count wasn’t a one-off, either. Soon after replying to @catturd2, his very next reply was to a Twitter account belonging to a right-wing organization called Canada Proud that was seeking his help with censorship concerns in Canada.Despite what conservative activists think, Big Tech is not a left-wing utopia. It is, in fact, fully owned by the right. These are dyed-in-the-wool capitalists. Twitter’s board literally sued Musk to force him to respect his legal agreement to buy the company because they valued their own personal payday over the livelihoods of their workers. (Remember: Musk has plans for big layoffs.) Twitter’s executives get to walk away with multimillion-dollar payouts while the employees that Musk plans to fire will have to worry about their next paycheck. And it’s not just on the business end of things either. Social media companies very specifically have a history of kowtowing to right-wing users. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, feared angering right-wing influencers so much that they were given special treatment to spread misinformation on Facebook. It is notable how Musk doesn’t mind making it blatantly obvious where his true intentions lie. Musk may be in charge of Twitter now, but he’s still beholden to a powerful group: Advertisers. Perhaps it would be smart for him to take his own advice and exit his echo chamber. Or, maybe he can just continue his new profession as a personal social media concierge service for right-wing social media addicts. Twitter can probably still scrounge up the same advertisers that conservative media attracts: MyPillow and the gold coin salesmen. Surely that revenue will make the $44 billion purchase worth it.