In a New York Times guest post, MSNBC host Chris Hayes claimed that “in less than a month” all of his “worst fears have come true” about the way new Twitter owner Elon Musk will launch his new social media platform operates.
Hayes claimed that Musk was “courting some of the worst trolls” on Twitter, scaring off advertisers and cutting staff to run the platforms’ basic functions.
Hayes also expressed concern that the platform could “collapse and stop working altogether” under Musk.
Hayes began his op-ed by describing Musk’s dealings with Twitter as a “near-death experience,” if not the end of it. He wrote: “If Twitter survives – and I sincerely hope it does – its near-death experience has revealed something fundamental about our online life: the digital spaces of civic life, the ‘public town square’ as Mr. Musk called Twitter, have been privatized to our collective detriment.”
He criticized the richest man in the world for privatizing the company against the wishes of its previous owner, Jack Dorsey. He said: “Before Mr. Musk bought Twitter, its co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey said about the platform that it should not be owned by anyone, that it ‘wants to be a public good at the protocol level.'”
He continued by praising Twitter before Musk as “an arena where something like the global conversation was happening.” He added, “It came closest to realizing the core vision of what the global marketplace could look like.”
He continued, “That’s why there was so much concern when Mr. Musk bought the property: No one should have all that power.”
Hayes then strongly condemned Musk’s handling of the platform. He wrote, “In less than a month, almost all of our worst fears have manifested themselves.” Listing them, he said, “He’s caringly courted some of the worst trolls, fleeing advertisers in droves, and downsizing so radically that simple Features like two-factor authentication stop working intermittently and risk breaking just shut down and stop working altogether.”
Hayes then gave a disparaging description of why Musk bought the platform, writing, “Mr. Musk bought Twitter because he’s a Twitter addict and, more specifically, an extreme online attention addict.”
Hayes continued to disparage the billionaire, declaring, “This is someone with millions of followers who is deep in the guts of his own responses and mentions and clearly spends an inordinate amount of time looking at what people are saying about him.”
He added: “I can tell you from experience that this is a road to insanity – although it is a path that gently guides you down the design of Twitter and other social networks.”
Hayes claimed that after Musk’s purchase, the site “felt like a family saying goodbye to a beloved but deeply troubled uncle.” He also accused Musk of “making the most expensive impulse buy in human history.”
“It fits, in its own messy way,” he explained.
He closed his essay on a negative note: “The most successful capitalist in the world has, in at least one respect, advanced the most definitive arguments in favor of the rejection of private ownership of the public sphere that we have seen in a long time.” He then taunted Musk with his own catchphrase : “Let that sink in.”