As if profiting ~$11M from Twitter Blue at the cost of losing dozens of millions in opportunity costs from advertisers no longer seeing long-term viability of the platform wasn’t a good enough idea, the “man” “leading” Twitter has a new idea. I put man and leading in scare quotes because as time goes on, I have the growing suspicion that Elon Musk is actually three children in a trench coat playing at being a responsible person. Don’t believe me? Tell me that this isn’t something that Vincent Adultman would do — Elon thought it was a good idea to threaten to give a high-profile news company’s handle away to whomever he sees fit as a punishment. From NPR:
Elon Musk has threatened to reassign NPR’s Twitter account to “another company.”
In a series of emails sent to this reporter, Musk said he would transfer the network’s main account on Twitter, under the @NPR handle, to another organization or person. The idea shocked even longtime observers of Musk’s spur-of-the-moment and erratic leadership style.
Handing over established accounts to third parties poses a serious risk of impersonation and could imperil a company’s reputation, said social media experts.
“If this is a sign of things to come on Twitter, we might soon see even more of a rapid retreat by media organizations and other brands that don’t think it’s worth the risk,” said Emily Bell, a professor at Columbia Journalism School who studies social media. “It’s really an extraordinary threat to make.”
Even if you bracket the chilling effects on speech that such action would have on news companies using the platform, this is just bad business, man. You don’t have to be a professor of journalism who studies social media to see that Bell is making a lot of sense. You could also be a former Twitter executive:
One former Twitter executive was taken aback by the remark, telling NPR that such a threat should be alarming to any business operating on the site, since it indicates that acquiescing to Musk’s every whim may be necessary in order to avoid being impersonated.
For most of its 17-year history, Twitter has had rules that maintained a certain level of order and offered both individuals and organization some control over their presence on the platform.
And while this is current players are just NPR and Musk’s tantrum throwing, it is worth wondering how the stability of the Twitterscape will bode for law firms. Take, for example, Hogan Lovells‘ $8 subscription for the two-factor authorization. Will they keep it up if, due to Musk’s tomfoolery, the only users left after the exodus are the bots and Musketeers trying to blow him? What about if King Twit follows through with charging brands $1,000 a month for the higher tiers of verification? Godspeed to the partner who has to tell their client that the firm still needs to be reimbursed for its Twitter Gold subscription after Elon decides to give the @HoganLovells handle to Cravath because he thought it was funny.
Elon Musk Threatens To Re-Assign @NPR On Twitter To ‘Another Company’ [NPR]
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.
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