Let’s remember who Elon Musk is. He’s a guy who got very rich peddling technofuturism to elites while cashing in on government subsidies. He’s a throwback to a libertarian Silicon Valley and he believes in free speech and debate… in principle.
The Joe Rogan political wing likes the idea of speech. It likes that speech to be on its own terms and it wants to be in charge. It likes controversy, but the kind it agrees with, and that makes it money.
Musk has his own balancing act, trying to make Twitter profitable after spending an incomprehensible fortune on it, which means not cutting off ad revenue, while courting a fan base that thinks of him as a heroic figure. He needs that fan base to inject money into it, beginning with a Twitter Blue subscription, while impressing them with his innovation.
Old Twitter didn’t have a balancing act. It leaned very hard into pandering to the leftist elites who kept it a ‘notable platform’. Musk’s balancing act is much more complicated. His bias isn’t reflexive, but it’s going to depend on building alliances with some remaining Twitter personnel, with tech industry investors, and advertisers, and with his fan base, who all want different things.
Beneath Musk’s trolling are these basic realities. And the trolling is a useful distraction from coming to terms with it. Twitter will be a more free platform, but it won’t be a truly free one. It will be a monetized one. And the best way to monetize it will be to convince everyone that they’re getting something while pitting them against each other.
With Musk as the arbiter.
A contested Twitter, one that is on the verge of teetering one way or another, a free-for-all or a walled garden for elite discourse, is the balancing act that will engage users and keep money flowing. That means management will be contradictory and will send mixed signals. Many of these mixed signals will be trial balloons disguised as trolling.
The question is will Musk be able to keep all of these balls in the air? I’m skeptical, but I was also highly skeptical that the deal would happen, or that he’ll be able to keep hold of the company.
The real storm, government action, is still coming. And i doubt he’s ready for it.