Twitter is gone, long live the portal

Date:

Leah Feiger: I can’t wait to hear about all of them. But let’s start with Elon Musk. If I had to trace the end of Twitter, it would obviously start with him. David, why did Musk buy Twitter? Take us back to that time.

David Gilbert: I think he had been thinking about buying Twitter for a while. He had been one of the main characters on Twitter for many years and had always been very vocal about his opinions and the content that he posted on it. But since 2020, when Donald Trump was kicked off the platform and there was a big ban on content related to COVID-19 and vaccines, he became very upset with what he saw as this hyper-censorship thing where he felt that people with a certain viewpoint were being silenced on the platform. Of course, this was something that not only Musk felt, but a lot of conservatives also felt that they were being silenced. The idea had been floating around for a while that he was going to buy it. A lot of his supporters were urging him, and he has a lot of supporters, that he should buy it, he should take control of it and make it his ideal social media platform. In early 2022, he did that. He decided to make a bid of $44 billion. Very quickly he shot back, “No, I actually don’t want to do that.”

(Archived audio clip), Then you changed your mind and decided to buy it. Did you do this-

Elon Musk (Archived audio clip), Well, I had to do that.

(Archived audio clip), OK. Did you do it because you thought the court would force you to do so?

Elon Musk (Archived audio clip), Yes.

(Archived audio clip), Correct.

Elon Musk (Archived audio clip), Yes, that is the reason.

Leah Feiger: I always forget that. I always forget that and I love it.

David Gilbert: He doesn’t really remind people of it very much. Eventually it happened, and Musk took over, and made changes very quickly. I’m not sure, at that point, Makena, do you think he really had a vision in mind for what his version of Twitter was going to look like?

Makena Kelly: No, I don’t think it was a dream, but rather, it was revenge.

David Gilbert: Yes.

Makena Kelly: If you look at that time, it was around the same time that regulators, even just the news, were becoming more skeptical about what Elon Musk was doing. He’s not some messiah character who’s going to lead us into some beautiful progressive world where we’re all driving autonomous vehicles and have solar panels on our houses. People were starting to be a lot more critical of him. Twitter is a place where you have newsmakers, tastemakers, very important people on this platform who are using it every day and that’s where you can really have a lot of conversations. I think Elon Musk, even though it may not have been at the forefront of mind, I think at least he knew subconsciously that having some kind of power on this platform would be helpful for him and his brand.

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