Dear Elon Musk

We’re on the eve of the Elon Musk / Twitter deal closing. In his Dear Twitter Advertisers letter, Elon writes:

The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence. There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.

On first reading, this sounds pretty good. I agree that we shouldn’t be stuck in our own bubbles of misinformation. But the part Elon gets wrong is the premise that there should even be a “common digital town square” controlled by a single company. I reject that idea.

The common digital “square” should be the entire web, with a diverse set of platforms. There should be common APIs but many communities with their own rules, goals, and business models. Concentrating too much power in only a couple social media companies is what created the mess we’re in. The way out is more platforms, free to make the best decisions for their users knowing that there are options to leave and less lock-in for developers.

Twitter’s next few months or years should be interesting. Taking the company private is a good thing, to refocus the company and resources. But I expect chaos. Meanwhile, the mission of continues. Start a blog, get your short posts somewhere you control, and let’s get ready for a post-Twitter web.

Manton Reece @manton