The day after Elon Musk finalized the acquisition of Twitter, I decided to stop using it and move definitively to Mastodon. I thought things would go downhill at Twitter, but honestly, I did not think they would go downhill so fast. Since then:
Musk fired half of the Twitter staff, and then tried to hire some of the people back after realizing he actually needed some of them.
We had the whole Twitter Blue fiasco, where the Twitter ‘verified’ checkmark, previously available only to public figures by verifying your identity with the Twitter staff, could now be obtained by anyone by buying a Twitter Blue subscription, with much hilarity ensuing.
Musk banned some accounts tracking the locations of billionaires’ private jets (obtained from publicly available information). Subsequently, he also banned a number of journalists that had published articles about the aforementioned ban. He also banned the Mastodon project’s account on Twitter, supposedly because it posted a tweet saying that some of the jet tracking accounts had moved to Mastodon.
The journalists’ and Mastodon’s accounts have been reinstated, but since then, Twitter has been blocking links to
mastodon.social (and many other instances). Attempts to tweet links to it yield an error with no explanation to the user:
And attempts to follow an existing link yield to a page saying that the link ‘may be unsafe’:
While writing this post, I found out that “promotion of alternative social platforms”, such as linking to your account on Mastodon, Instagram or Facebook, is now forbidden by Twitter policy. [Update (2022-12-19): That page has been deleted. You can see the WebArchive version.]
The banning of journalists for talking about things Elon does not like, and blocking of Mastodon links, should be a clear enough sign that (1) Twitter is entirely under the whims of its new owner, and (2) the guy has whims aplenty. This is not anymore a situation of “I will stop using this service because it will likely become crap in the future”, it’s a situation of “I cannot use this service anymore because it’s crap already”. If they follow through with their new policy, my account there (which currently only exists to point to my Mastodon one, and to keep the username from being taken) will soon probably be suspended through no effort of my own.
All of this is quite disturbing considering the reliance of journalists on Twitter. Mastodon is a nice place if your goal is to find people with common interests and have conversations with them, but for journalists, I think the main value of Twitter is finding out news about what is happening in the world, through trending topics, global search, and things going viral, none of which are things Mastodon is designed to provide or encourage (on the contrary, Mastodon is in many ways designed to avoid such features). Therefore, I don’t see journalists migrating en masse to Mastodon. However, begging the billionaire to not expel them from his playground is not a sustainable course of action in the long run (and even in the short run, judging by the speed of things so far). I’m curious about how things will roll out on that front.
Given all that, I won’t be posting to Twitter anymore, not even to announce new blog posts as I used to do. You can follow this blog via RSS feed as always, or follow me on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org. (Maybe one day I will add an option to subscribe by e-mail, but that will require setting up an e-mail server, and so far I have not found the will to do that. And yes, it’s been almost a year since I last posted anything here, but this blog is not quite dead.)
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