To say the Twitterverse has opinions about Elon Musk taking over is an understatement. But some users are even threatening to quit Twitter in response to the billionaire’s takeover.
It may seem like a mass exodus is about to happen, but why? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons.
Twitter Users Threaten to Shut Their Accounts
Twitter users regularly threaten to quit the platform. However, the threat seems real, with some having already deleted their accounts over the likelihood of Elon Musk changing things at Twitter once the deal goes through.
As soon as the Twitter board accepted Musk’s offer to buy Twitter, Visualping noticed an 82% increase in search volumes for “Delete Twitter account” in the US alone.
The hashtag #GoodByeTwitter also started trending on the platform. The messages were split between people promising to delete their accounts and others telling them “good riddance.”
Why Are People Threatening to Quit Twitter?
The main reason people are threatening to quit Twitter is, quite simply, that Elon Musk taking over. So let’s unpack this and see exactly why this change of ownership has triggered such an extreme reaction.
1. Musk’s Views on Freedom of Speech
One of the things that Musk has said time and time again, especially in the past few months, is that Twitter needs to respect the right to freedom of speech. He believes that Twitter has been censoring too many users.
Right-wingers have complained that Twitter leans left, while left-wingers think that the opposite is true.
Whether we’re talking about banning former US President Trump for breaking Twitter’s ToS, preventing anti-vax views, blocking misinformation about the pandemic, expressing racist views, or tweeting threats of violence, some believe that Twitter has overstepped the mark. Musk included.
Musk has spoken out about how he believes Twitter is infringing on free speech. He says his definition of free speech goes as far as the law does.
Following Musk’s statement, people fear that any content moderation beyond what the law would sanction will be seen as censorship. As a result, the misinformation moderation policies could go out the window, and all the measures put in place to mitigate harassment against those with different opinions, of a different race, gender, and so on, could also go extinct.
2. A Belief That Musk Is a Demagogue
Not for the first time, Musk has been called a demagogue. People believe that he will bend Twitter’s rules to foster his own popularity.
And Musk hasn’t helped himself by expressing a desire to open Twitter’s algorithms to the public. Many political voices have been demanding the ability to check out the algorithms to know what makes Twitter tick and, more importantly, how to make it tick in their favor.
3. Fears That Twitter Could Turn Into a Cesspool
Twitter has been around since 2006 and, since then, has managed to create a system that allows it to moderate some of the vilest messages spread by its users. The platform has been known to sanction threats of violence, misinformation, racism, sexism, and more.
Musk wants to push his complete freedom of speech agenda. But that could leave Twitter without the means and the power to put a stop to the vile behavior many of us have experienced on Twitter.
US law may not punish people for sending racist messages, but that doesn’t mean it should be OK to express them on a public forum. And as social media and the perceived anonymity of the internet can bring out the worst in people, Twitter could quickly turn into a cesspool.
4. Twitter Would Be in the Hands of Just One Person
Another major issue people have with Musk’s purchase of Twitter is that the service could become his own playground. Musk has expressed his intention of taking the platform private when the deal goes through. This would take it off the stock market and put it in the hands of just one person.
Right now, Twitter is a publicly-traded company, which means each person who has purchased Twitter shares owns a little piece of the company. Once Musk buys Twitter, he will have complete ownership of the company and complete control of the company.
Why does this matter? Because publicly-traded companies must tread carefully in approaching sensitive topics for fear of harming their stock price, must release quarterly and annual reports detailing how the company is doing, and more besides. Musk would not have to do any of this, and there will be no one to hold him accountable.
Will People Actually Quit Twitter?
While #GoodByeTwitter may have trended for days and queries about how to cancel your Twitter account have surged, the reality is that very few users will actually go through with the threat.
Claiming to cancel their Twitter accounts is the empty threat of today, similar to how “I’m moving to Canada if my favored candidate doesn’t win” pops up every time there’s a US election. It’s an emotional response to a triggering situation, but the best decision is to just wait it out and see what happens.
Twitter Users Are Threatening to Quit But Staying On
Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter comes with a ton of uncertainties for the platform’s future, but the userbase will likely remain the same. While a few will keep to their promise to quit, we suspect most will carry on and use Twitter even when Musk takes over.