Elon Musk is like a spoiled rich kid who convinces his dad to buy the local newspaper because he wants to put Marmaduke on the cover. And right on cue, Musk, who recently bought Twitter for way more than it’s worth, is alienating some of his most important contributors—such as New York congresswoman and social media superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—in a bid to hoover up cash from the very people providing the platform with free, widely read content.
Like most visionary billionaires with an unparalleled track record of success, Musk recently adjusted his new company’s business model on the fly because Stephen King said so. And now Ocasio-Cortez is joining in on the “fun.”
On Monday, King responded to reports that Musk was fixing to charge celebrities with coveted blue “Verified” checkmarks $20 a month for the honor, tweeting, “$20 a month to keep my blue check? F**k that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.” To which Musk replied, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
Seriously? He’s publicly haggling with his most reliable content providers over how much he should charge them for providing viral content? Weird. Then again, he has to recoup that $44 billion he paid for Twitter somehow, and squeezing $8 a month out of people like Ruth Buzzi would go a long way toward making that happen.
That’s where Rep. Ocasio-Cortez—AOC to her fans and foes alike—jumped in. Needless to say, she was not amused.
Of course, Musk, who is marginally funnier than cancer but not quite as funny as antibiotic-resistant narwhal syphilis, felt compelled to respond in his patented quippy, queasy fashion, tweeting, “Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8.”
He even pinned the tweet, which for those who don’t strategize on the bird app, was an attempt to garner enough friendly (to him) attention to “ratio” AOC with negative commentary.
Musk then tweeted this non sequitur, as if fundraising with campaign merch is somehow the height of robber baron capitalism:
At which point the Twitter ninja eviscerated the newly minted Twitter nincompoop, whose labor practices have frequently been brought into question, with a thermobaric truth bomb.
For the nontweeters:
Proud of this and always will be.
My workers are union, make a living wage, have full healthcare, and aren’t subject to racist treatment in their workplaces. Items are made in USA.
Team AOC honors and respects working people. You should try it sometime instead of union-busting.
I’m no captain of industry, but I always thought it was customary to figure out what the fuck you were doing before you bought a business for $44 billion. Maybe Musk should have done some perfunctory research to see if fucking over Twitter’s greatest asset—an army of users who are willing to work for free—was a good idea. Just a thought. And the timing seems especially bad here. I mean, would you pay a monthly fee to stay on a platform that could be anything from Mad Max: Fury Road to a Christian furry porn site two weeks from now?
Speaking of porn, The Washington Post is reporting that Musk is insisting on going ahead with a new paid video feature, despite those experienced Twitter staff members who he hasn’t gotten around to firing yet having told him it’s a really bad idea.
Twitter is working on a feature that would let people post videos and charge users to view them, with the company taking a cut of the proceeds, according to an internal email obtained by The Washington Post. The company appears to be aiming to rush out the feature, referred to as Paywalled Video, with a target of one to two weeks before launch.
But the team has “identified the risk as high,” according to the email, which was sent by an employee on Twitter’s Product Trust team. The email cites “risks related to copyrighted content, creator/user trust issues, and legal compliance” and says the feature will undergo a brief internal review on those issues before moving forward.
Bad idea, right? I mean, who would you believe? The experienced team of Twitter veterans who’ve been working on these issues for years ... or the guy whose social media experience has been pretty much limited to competing with Mike Huckabee for the title of most embarrassing
white man multicelled organism on the planet?
Ah, but believe it or not, this idea is even worse than it appears at first blush.
The video shift could also push Twitter, which is unusual among major social networks for allowing nudity and consensual pornography, into competition with sites that specialize in adult content.
Gee, maybe Stephen King will migrate over to PornHub. I, for one, would pay at least $8 to watch him read Dolores Claiborne in his underwear. I can’t be the only one.
Of course, after AOC criticized Musk in his own clubhouse, he appeared to immediately retaliate—which makes all his lofty talk about Twitter being a new town square where free speech is sacrosanct seem kind of, well, empty.
For the non-tweeters:
Also my twitter mentions/notifications conveniently aren’t working tonight, so I was informed via text that I seem to have gotten under a certain billionaire’s skin
Just a reminder that money will never [buy] your way out of insecurity, folks.
That’s certainly true. It’s also true that you can’t B.S. your way out of a money pit you willingly crawled into with your eyes wide open.
When the “glitch” continued into Thursday, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez confronted Musk about it.
For the non-tweeters!
Yo @elonmusk while I have your attention, why should people pay $8 just for their app to get bricked when they say something you don’t like?
This is what my app has looked like ever since my tweet upset you yesterday. What’s good? Doesn’t seem very free speechy to me
Twitter’s armchair analysts were quick to critique Musk’s missteps, including Wisdom of Crowds author and business/finance journalist James Surowiecki.
UK-based law professor Paul Bernal wrote an entire thread on how Musk “doesn’t understand what makes Twitter work” before the billionaire ever took on the congresswoman.
Bernal goes on to astutely note that Musk “seems to think he’s bought a tech company [...] when what he’s really bought is a community of users.” And it’s worth nothing that while the U.S. may have the most Twitter users of any country, nearly 83% of the site’s community of nearly 5 million users are outside the States.
Maybe Musk can buy the Kansas City Chiefs next and charge Patrick Mahomes a small fee to play quarterback for him. Failing that, he can suit up himself. Because watching Musk get brutally sacked in his own end zone (literally instead of figuratively this time) is something most of us would actually pay 8 bucks—or far more—for.
We’re deep in the homestretch before the all-important midterm elections, but it’s not too late to Get Out the Vote or rush a donation to a worthy Democratic candidate of your choice. Let’s do this, people!
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