From his unassuming origins as the son of a millionaire engineer and businessman in apartheid South Africa, to being the CEO of his own companies known for endemic sexism, racism, and union-busting, eccentric billionaire Elon Musk is known for many things, but certainly not for improving the world or society in any way.
However, this could all change as Musk has officially taken over Twitter, and is swiftly driving the social media platform — that was already pretty unbearable due to users such as Musk — into the ground.
“Since he took over, there have been mass layoffs and those of us still on board have been working around the clock to execute his vision for the company,” says one Twitter engineer who requested anonymity, though Musk will probably find a way to uncover their identity and punish them for speaking transparently about his business practices as has historically been his wont.
“It’s been grueling, and morale is on the floor,” the employee says. “But I had a moment of clarity the other day, through all the fear, that if I get fired, then I won’t have to work for Elon Musk anymore, and what a beautiful thing that would be.”
This one worker’s story serves as a microcosm for how Musk’s bold moves such as planning to charge Twitter users $20 per month for verification, or using the platform personally to spread disinformation and baseless conspiracy theories from fringe publications, could lead to his sole positive impact on the world.
“In the early days of Twitter, the site felt like a place where regular people could organize and exert power over oppressive institutions,” says one user, Willy Lane. “But then people like Elon Musk got on there, and it really startled to hurtle downhill.”
Indeed, with the platform that was once considered a “digital town square” now the private domain of the cartoon-villain, richest-man-alive, loser-ass, stale-meme-hawking, gross-little-scarf-wearing billionaire, its interface seems unlikely to improve.
“Twitter has often scared me, as its algorithm seems to reward cruelty and extremism while disallowing nuance and, I don’t know, any innate goodness that may reside within humanity,” adds Lane. “But now that Elon Musk is in charge, those things are clearly going to get so much worse, in a way that will hopefully run the site into the ground and release us all from its shackles.”
“It’s kind of a shame, because I liked getting on-the-ground news from independent journalists on Twitter,” Lane adds. “But when those people lose their verification, it will be hard for them to retain their base on Twitter. I guess having an evil man intent on exploiting the worst facets of human nature in charge won’t lead to a very hospitable space.”
Luckily, with most of his wealth tied up in plummeting Tesla stock and Twitter’s $13 billion in debt, the whole company might just go bankrupt before it has time to end democracy.