Elon Musk’s Twitter Acquisition
South African-born Elon Musk has been a household name since 2012, when his company SpaceX launched the first commercial rocket into space. And it’s safe to say, he’s been making headlines ever since.
As president of the Musk Foundation and CEO of Tesla, Inc., Musk regularly faces controversy. Most recently, though, he’s shocked the world with his turbulent takeover of popular social media platform Twitter, Inc.
In January 2022, Musk began buying Twitter shares, reaching 9.2% ownership by April of the same year. At that point, he was invited to join the board of directors but he declined and instead offered to purchase the company for $44 billion.
In July 2022, Musk withdrew his offer on the grounds that Twitter was failing to crack down on bot accounts, but this withdrawal was deemed unlawful and the company filed a suit against him. In the weeks approaching the trial, Musk changed course yet again and eventually purchased the company as initially agreed on 27th October 2022.
How is Twitter changing?
On the day of the takeover, Musk fired the entire Twitter board, including the CEO and CFO, and started referring to himself as ‘Chief Twit’. In the following weeks, approximately 3700 Twitter staff were let go and users began to express concerns about content moderation.
As Musk began reinstating controversial Twitter accounts (e.g. those of Donald Trump and Andrew Tate) and charging users for blue tick verification, many advertisers suspended their ads on the platform due to worries about the spread of misinformation, fake news and hate speech.
With #RIPTwitter trending, notable celebrities (including Stephen Fry, Greta Thunburg and Kathy Griffin) closed their Twitter accounts and moved to decentralised social media platform, Mastodon.
But will Mastodon really replace Twitter? Read on to find out our thoughts.
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Mastodon vs. Twitter, what’s the difference?
Mastodon is a free, open-source platform made up of individual servers (called ‘instances’) which are grouped by interest. There’s currently over 7500 instances to choose from – e.g. cycling community ‘toot.bike’ and all-things-science server ‘mstdn.science’.
Despite the presence of individual servers (which make it inherently different to other social media platforms), Mastodon’s interface and functionality looks somewhat similar to Twitter – the equivalent of ‘tweets’, for example, are ‘toots’ (we’re laughing at that too!). But Mastodon is far less curated and has zero advertising, which is probably why some Twitter users are making the switch.
The major difference between Mastodon and Twitter, though, is that each server has its own code of conduct and moderation policies, and content moderation is done entirely by volunteers (known as ‘moderators’ – just like on Reddit). So, why do Twitter sceptics believe Mastodon to be the better choice?
Arguably, the localised nature of Mastodon and its chronological timelines give the platform more of a ‘community-feel’; character limits per toot are higher on Mastodon than on twitter (500 characters in contrast to Twitter’s 280 per tweet); and each server is independently moderated, ensuring greater freedom of speech depending on the instance a user chooses to join.
But is Mastodon actually a suitable replacement? We think probably not!
Is Mastodon really the new Twitter?
Mastodon definitely appeals more to the tech-savvy members of society than others, and if you’re not clued up on how to use it, it’s tricky to navigate and difficult to find your friends or join instances that appeal to you. Independent content moderation is also inherently risky – people with extreme views can set up their own server and even promote hate speech.
It’s still unclear how useful Mastodon will be for businesses – just like tweets, toots can be a great place to implement your brand’s tone of voice, but the 2.6 million active Mastodon members aren’t nearly as versatile as the 206 million daily Twitter users, so it really does depend on your industry.
If your business is in STEM, Mastodon may well be a suitable place to translate your brand to social media, but as it stands right now businesses in other sectors can probably hold off on joining the platform.
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