MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes said in a New York Times guest column that “in less than a month” all of his “worst worries had been fulfilled” on how new Twitter owner Elon Musk has managed his new social media network.
Hayes asserted that Musk “courted some of the worst trolls” on Twitter, that he has scared away advertisers, and that he has reduced the number of employees responsible for core platform tasks.
Hayes also voiced concern that, under Musk’s leadership, the platform would “fall down and cease functioning entirely.”
Hayes opened his guest piece by comparing Musk’s Twitter use to a “near-death experience,” if not the end of it. He added, “If Twitter survives — and I earnestly hope it does — its near-death experience has shown something basic about our online lives: the digital places of civic life, the “public town square” as Elon Musk referred to Twitter, have become privatized, to our collective loss.”
He blasted the world’s wealthiest man for going against Jack Dorsey’s desires and taking the firm private. Before Mr. Musk purchased Twitter, its co-founder and previous chief executive officer, Jack Dorsey, stated that the network ‘wants to be a public benefit at the protocol level’
He proceeded by complimenting Twitter as “an arena where something similar to the global discourse was taking place” and “the platform that came closest to realizing the underlying notion of what the global town square could look like.”
Hayes described Musk’s acquisition of Twitter as a “impulsive buy.”
He said, “So’s why there was so much concern when Mr. Musk purchased the site: No one individual should have that much authority.”
Hayes then delivered a scathing critique of Musk’s management of the site. He wrote, “In less than a month, nearly all of the worst fears have manifested.” He listed them, saying, “He has solicitously courted some of the worst trolls, sent advertisers fleeing in droves, and cut the staff so drastically that simple functions like two-factor authentication have occasionally stopped working, and there’s a risk that it will simply break down and stop working altogether.”
Hayes then dismissed Musk’s motivations for purchasing the network, adding, “Mr. Musk purchased Twitter because he is a Twitter junkie and, more precisely, an online attention addict.
Hayes proceeded to disparage the billionaire, noting, “This is someone with millions of followers who is buried in his own responses and mentions, clearly spending an unusual amount of time perusing what others are writing about him.”
He said, “I can tell you from personal experience that this is a route to insanity, although Twitter and other social networks gently assist you down.”
Hayes said that following Musk’s acquisition, “the site felt like a family bidding goodbye to a beloved but very troublesome uncle.” He also accused Musk of making “the costliest impulsive buy in the history of mankind.”
“It’s appropriate in its own chaotic manner,” he said.
He criticized Musk with his own catchphrase: “Let that sink in.” He closed his piece on a sour note: “The world’s most successful businessman, by at least one measure, has presented the most definitive argument in a very long time for rejecting private control of the public domain.”