How big a loss to society would Twitter’s demise be?

Twitter office interior

As Elon Musk continues remaking Twitter in his own image, I wonder what tomorrow’s Twitter will look like, if it survives the current carnage.

The question of Twitter’s survival as a going concern isn’t a far-fetched point given the extraordinary events that have happened since Musk acquired the social network in October.

The chaos in recent weeks has led to the exodus of many users, although only a trickle at the moment. We’ve seen the dismissal of the majority of Twitter’s pre-acquisition global employee total of 7,500 plus thousands of contractors. Big advertisers have paused their paid activity and some of the world’s largest and most influential advertising agencies have recommended to clients not to advertise on Twitter under the present circumstances.

Income from advertising is Twitter’s primary source of revenue.

The latest development is closing Twitter’s offices worldwide and not allowing employee access until Monday November 21.

Can or will Twitter survive? That’s a question with much speculation over the answer. Elon Musk is adamant that Twitter will survive. Note that the hashtag #RIPtwitter is currently trending, in the UK at least.

If it doesn’t, or the present Twilight Zone continues indefinitely (but how can it?), what about the data that is generated from the huge quantity of content that’s published by Twitter users every day and that advertisers especially make great use of to glean insights into user behaviours regarding their products or services?

It’s a great question, one that Christina Garnett asked on LinkedIn and which Shel Holtz and I discussed in epsiode 298 of the For Immediate Release podcast published yesterday.

You can listen to our 17-minute discussion right here:

(If you don’t see the player above, listen on the FIR website.)

There’s also what I think is arguably an even greater and more concerning question, as posed by the MIT Technology Review a few days ago: Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history.

MIT asks the burning question: “What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?”

Shel and I drew that question into our discussion, too.

Is all this far-fetched? I think not, do you?

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