Anti-democratic policy and chaotic leadership will force more institutions to reassess how they use Twitter

As I told CNBC yesterday, Twitter’s ban on promotion of selected social media services and restriction of links was not a good policy. Suspensions of journalists reporting on moderation decisions was similarly horrific, chilling journalism on the platform and serving notice that new management was willing to change policy and ban journalists.

Successful companies should compete in the markets for attention, advertising, & information online by making & deploying robust, compelling products and services, not suddenly imposing draconian limits to freedom of expression and linking to other services online, which key anti-competitive behavior & anti-consumer behavior. 

After a massive backlash, Twitter owner Elon Musk apologized for sudden policy changes, Twitter deleted @TwitterSafety’s tweets and a webpage that outlined the regressive policy banned alternative social platforms, and Musk created a poll asking if he should step down. 

Got all that?

It’s been helluva 48 hours online, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time on social media over the past two decades.

This rollercoaster ride to and from Hades is far from over.

If explicitly anti-press, anti-government, & transphobic rhetoric, suspensions of the press, & extraordinary restrictions on both freedom of expression & freedom to link continue, more institutions will be forced off the sidelines this week to suspend participation, shift to listening mode, or leave outright Twitter.

As with every platform where we spent time, attention, or money, online or off, individuals, corporations, news media, & democratic governments all must reassess what corporate behavior, norms, & policies they are willing to endorse through continued participation, much less support through paid promotion or subscriptions. 

Since 2006, Twitter has acted as an information utility, along with a news browser, organizing tool, office watercooler, social network, & global platform for protests, campaigns, & lies that fueled an insurrection. 

It’s always been driven and shaped by the action of humans on it, not just the product and policy and feature decisions of its operators. The emergent behavior we see in reaction to the past week of changes will shape what Twitter will be in 2023, & to whom.