In a New York Times guest essay, MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes claimed that “in less than a month” all of his “worst fears have come true” about how Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, managed his new social media platform.
Hayes claimed Musk “wooed some of the worst trolls” on Twitter, scared advertisers and cut staff who handle the platforms’ core functions.
Hayes also expressed concern that under Musk the platform could “crash and stop working altogether.”
Hayes began his guest essay by describing Musk’s handling of Twitter as a “near-death experience,” if not the end of it. He wrote: “If Twitter survives – and I fervently hope it does – its near-death experience has revealed something fundamental about our lives online: the digital spaces of civic life, the ‘public square of the city’ like Mr. Musk deemed Twitter, have been privatized, to our collective detriment.
He slammed the world’s richest man for taking the business away from the wishes of its former owner, Jack Dorsey. He said: “Before Mr. Musk bought Twitter, co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey said of the platform that no one should own it, that it ‘wants to be a public good at the level of the protocol”.
He went on to praise Twitter before Musk as “an arena where something like the global conversation was happening.” He added, “this is the closest thing to executing the central vision of what the global city square could look like.”
He continued: “That’s why there was so much trepidation when Mr. Musk bought the site: no one should have all this power.”
Hayes then provided a scathing condemnation of Musk’s handling of the platform. He wrote: “In less than a month almost every worst fear has come to light.” Listing them, he said: “He solicitously wooed some of the worst trolls, sent advertisers fleeing en masse, and cut staff so drastically that simple features like two-factor authentication sometimes stopped working and there has a risk that it will simply break down and completely stop working.
Hayes then gave a dismissive description of why Musk bought the platform, writing, “Mr. Musk bought Twitter because he’s addicted to Twitter and, more specifically, extremely addicted to online attention.
Hayes continued to disparage the billionaire, saying: “He’s someone with millions of followers who’s deep in the guts of his own replies and mentions, clearly spending excessive time watching what people are saying about him. “
He added, “I can tell you from experience that it’s a path to insanity – even though it’s a path that the design of Twitter and other social networks gently guides you through.”
Hayes claimed that after Musk’s purchase, “the site felt like a family saying goodbye to a beloved but deeply problematic uncle.” He also accused Musk of “making the most expensive impulse buy in human history.”
“It’s appropriate, in its chaotic way,” he said.
He concluded his essay on a negative note: “The world’s most successful capitalist, by at least one measure, has made the most definitive case for throwing private property out of the public sphere that we have seen in a very long time. He then poked fun at Musk, using his own catchphrase: “Let it sink in.”