Elon Musk’s chaotic reign boosts Twitter — and its smaller rivals

Saturday - 19/11/2022 06:29 Author: Editors Desk Source: Financial Times
Usage has risen despite some high-profile departures and the growth of Mastodon and Tumblr
© FT montage/AFP/Getty Images
© FT montage/AFP/Getty Images

As a wave of Twitter employees declared they would quit following Elon Musk’s ultimatum that they accept demands for an “extremely hardcore” working culture, the billionaire boasted on Friday: “And . . . we just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage lol.”

A curious side effect of Musk’s divisive leadership — backing Republican candidates at the recent US midterm elections, drawing up plans to loosen content moderation, and firing staff by tweet — has been that engagement among Twitter’s more than 245mn users appears higher than ever.

The cacophony created by Musk’s unorthodox management has attracted a larger flock to the social networking site, apparently drawn into the chaos unleashed by the billionaire’s $44bn takeover.

Even so, there is also evidence that some are experimenting with alternatives. Usage of far smaller rivals such as Mastodon and Tumblr has rocketed, as some Twitter users encourage their followers to abandon the site to test out rivals.

Other entrepreneurs have sought to capitalise on the perceived disenchantment. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is developing WT. Social, which is described as a “non-toxic social network”. Gabor Cselle, a former Google director who previously worked at Twitter, is also building a “better Twitter”, called T2

“The format doesn’t need reinventing but Twitter has real problems around moderation,” Cselle told the Financial Times. “I’ll be building trust and safety at the centre of what I’m doing.”

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 Keywords: Twitter, Elon Musk

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