The end of Twitter

Our online public squares are sunsetting. What’s next?

Ben Werdmuller

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Photo by Daddy Mohlala on Unsplash

Elon Musk needs to complete his acquisition of Twitter by October 28 if he wants to avoid the company’s lawsuit against him. That’s really soon — a week from today as I write this post.

The network has been a part of my life more or less since it launched. I’ve been hopelessly addicted since my Elgg days, back when you could post via SMS and hashtags were but an IRC-style gleam in Chris Messina’s eye. Unlike blogging, I don’t know if it’s done anything positive for my career, but it’s certainly informed my view of the world, both for better and worse.

For a few years, it was tradition that I’d go offline for the year at around Thanksgiving, to give myself some time to recover from the cognitive load of all those notifications. I don’t think the constant dopamine rush is in any way good for you, but the site’s function as a de facto town square has also helped me learn and grow. It’s a health hazard and an information firehose; a community and an attack vector for democracy. More than even Facebook, I think it’s defined the internet’s role in democratic society during the 21st century.

But all things must come to an end. Musk has suggested that he’ll reinstate Donald Trump’s account in time for the 2024 election and gut 75% of Twitter’s

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Ben Werdmuller

Writer: of code, fiction, and strategy. Trying to work for social good.