In a New York Times guest essay, MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes claimed that “in less than a month” all of his “worst fears have been realized” regarding how new Twitter owner Elon Musk has run his new social media platform.
Hayes claimed that Musk has “courted some of the worst trolls” on Twitter, scared off advertisers and cut staff who handle the basic functions of the platforms.
Hayes also expressed concern that under Musk, the platform could “break down and stop working entirely.”
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Hayes began his guest essay by describing Musk’s handling of Twitter as a “near-death experience,” if not the end of it. He wrote: “If Twitter survives — and I sincerely hope it does — the near-death experience has revealed something fundamental about our online lives: the digital spaces of civic life, the ‘public square’ that Mr. Musk deemed Twitter, has been privatized, to our collective detriment.”
He criticized the world’s richest man for taking the company private, against the wishes of its former owner, Jack Dorsey. He said: “Before Mr. Musk bought Twitter, its co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey said of the platform that no one should own it, that it ‘wants to be a protocol-level public good’.”
He went on to praise Twitter before Musk as “an arena where something like the global conversation was taking place.” He added, “it came closest to executing on the core vision of what the global square could look like.”
He continued, “That’s why there was so much concern when Mr. Musk bought the site: No one man should have all that power.”
Hayes then condemned Musk’s handling of the platform. He wrote: “In less than a month, almost all the worst fears have manifested.” Listing them, he said: “He has meticulously courted some of the worst trolls, sent advertisers fleeing in droves and cut staff so radically that simple features like two-factor authentication have at times stopped working, and there is a risk that will simply break down. down and stop working altogether.”
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Hayes then offered a dismissive description of why Musk bought the platform, writing: “Mr. Musk bought Twitter because he is a Twitter addict and more specifically an extreme online attention junkie.”
Hayes went on to disparage the billionaire, saying: “This is someone with millions of followers who are deep into his own replies and comments, and clearly spend a disproportionate amount of time looking at what people are saying about him.”
He added, “I can tell you from experience that this is a path to madness — even if it’s a path that the design of Twitter and other social networks gently leads you down.”
Hayes claimed that after Musk’s purchase, the site “felt like a family saying goodbye to a beloved but deeply troubled uncle.” He also accused Musk of “making the most expensive impulse buy in human history.”
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“It’s fitting, in its own chaotic way,” he declared.
He ended his essay on a negative note, “The world’s most successful capitalist, by at least one measure, has made the most definitive case for rejecting private ownership of the public sphere that we have seen in a very long time.” He then taunted Musk using his own catchphrase: “Let it sink in.”