Some brief thoughts around Twitter accepting Elon Musk’s bid to buy it and take it private.
Whether worries about what happens next are founded or not, it’s good to see Mastodon and the #fediverse getting some attention. We saw our little Mastodon-powered community grow a bit yesterday (as did many others), as this tweet got spread around:
In light of the Twitter news, here's a reminder that we run a little microblogging platform especially for writers, https://t.co/fMXJjBmTBa, powered by @joinmastodon ?— Matt Baer (@ilikebeans) April 25, 2022
Now, on those worries: while this could mean a billionaire owning Twitter, intelligent people have rightly pointed out that Twitter is already owned by the controlling presence of a corporate board. Maybe neither situation is the best thing for a “public square” (that’s more of a shopping mall).
It's embarrassing that we've been willing to have our public, civic conversations on platforms controlled by corporate boards. Musk's purchase of Twitter just makes that absurdity even more apparent. Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as mass migration to Mastodon.— Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ) April 25, 2022
You might say we’ve often just ignored this all along. Which, again, is why I’m glad that this is at least sparking a conversation around the question of Who really owns the platform?
It’s also got me thinking again about user ownership of Write.as. I think that’s the real, long-term answer to questions that come up when your social media platform goes up for sale. Mastodon / the fediverse provide a glimpse of great ideas outside the mainstream, like non-commercial, community hosting and self-governance. But outside of a particular implementation, on a Twitter-level scale, I think we need to prove a model for ownership and aligned financial incentives between platforms and the people on them.