Elon Musk has bought Twitter. That’s concerning for many. However, Twitter is not the big player in numbers or revenue that you may think. It’s in debt and has financial issues, its engagement numbers are not the biggest. Musk paid a lot, maybe too much and tried to get out of buying it. Social media is a complicated market place, without engagement it doesn’t exist and those on Twitter have a sense of ownership or control over the platform that is making them speak out and up proclaiming that it might be time to jump ship. I wonder if Musk cares.
Twitter is the platform for politicians, journalists, academics and for those interested in conversation and debate. Of course it is also home to the racist, abusive, angry, ignorant, homophobic, mysoginist and ill-informed loudmouth. These people exist in life and surround us, but Twitter gives them a soapbox to spread their views, we know this, but it also allows us to mute or block this offensive noise. I rarely see this type of rhetoric as I don’t follow these kinds of people, if something does slip into my timeline, I make sure that it is a one-off event.
The concern now Musk has control is that extreme right wing beliefs will proliferate. US right wing movements have fanned this fire as have comments made by Musk himself.
The truth is that none of us can truly predict the future. We don’t know what will happen with Twitter. It could stay with us for many years or go the same way as Napster, Flickr, Tumblr or Friends Reunited. Disappear all together or fade into the background. Perhaps it will go up in flames lit by those who choose Telegraph and Truth Social to communicate with those holding similar dysfunctional views. Either way, I’m not panicking, but I am keeping my options open.
What this means is checking out the platforms attempting to challenge the dominance of Twitter and Instagram. So who are they? Well, Vero seems to be a favourite option to some, but I’m not convinced and a little confused. Let me explain.
I have a presence on most platforms even TikTok as unofphoto, not because I want to be on them or use them consistently, but because I want to have the name tag so that others cannot set up as the UNP and put out content that does not align with my sensibilities and ethics. You might want to consider doing the same if you have a professional photography reputation.
In just a few weeks on Vero my following jumped to over two thousand and my posts were being liked. However, not one more person has followed me since and there is no interaction. Why not? It makes me wonder about those following me and why they are doing so. Vero looks nice, but so far I can’t see the point of it, rather like Medium I will give it some time, but I will probably drift away.
That is where I am with Instagram, drifting away. I have to be honest and admit that I have not had the success there that others have, but the constant advertisements and reels have made it an exhausting experience for me. I know I can just check who I follow, but I also want to see work I don’t know and I just don’t have time to devote to battling it’s algorithms.
As I have said I am on Tik Tok, I’m also on Facebook, on Substack and Patreon, but I don’t engage with any of them. That has not stopped me from joining Mastodon, another suggestion as a Twitter replacement. I have no idea at this point as to whether I will engage with it in any meaningful way.
What I do know is that Twitter works best for me and unless it changes dramatically I will not be climbing into any lifeboat soon. I may have to keep an eye out for extreme right wing propaganda, but that’s okay, I can do that. So, despite the new Musky smell, I’ll stay on the boat, keeping an eye out for icebergs.
Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 www.donotbendfilm.com. He is the presenter of the A Photographic Life and In Search of Bill Jay podcasts.
© Grant Scott 2022