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A Fool and Their Money?, Part II: Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang

In the actual song, 'G' stands for 'Gangsta.' For our purposes, however, the 'G' is going to stand for 'Grift,' which may be the end game for the Elon Musk version of the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Since he acquired his new toy, Musk has taken countless steps that seem to be counterproductive. And by "counterproductive," we really mean "shooting himself in the foot with a bazooka." He's driven readers and advertisers away, made the platform far less stable from a technical perspective, and made it far easier for trolls, racists, incels and other obnoxious types to make their voices heard.

This month, Musk has already made one additional big change, and has suggested another is coming down the pike. The one that's a done deal is that the platform has made it considerably easier to make money, if a user is able to reach a lot of other users (or people on the Internet in general) with their ad pitches. It's called the Creator Ads Revenue Sharing program.

The other big change, which Musk said is "definite," but which would also cause the platform's app to be removed from all the big app stores, so we'll see how "definite" it really is, is to eliminate the "block" function. "Mute" would still be available, such that [USER X] would be able to avoid seeing content from [USER Y]. Nonetheless, [USER Y] would still be able to see and comment on anything [USER X] posted, and would also be able to reach all of [USER X]'s followers. Needless to say, this is going to give even freer rein to the racists, trolls, etc.

It's not exactly a keen insight to say that maybe Musk is trying to turn his social media platform into a more popular version of Truth Social, Parler, Gab, etc. But putting both of this month's announcements together, the plan could be considerably more precise, and to turn the platform formerly known as Twitter into a Fox-like grifting operation. That is to say, create a base of far-right content creators and users, and then have them sell stuff to each other.

Broadly speaking, this is not an impossible business model. To take a slight left turn for a moment, the actor Patrick Stewart made more money playing Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis than he did playing the role across seven seasons of the TV series. And the reason for that is that broadcast TV extracts a tiny amount of money from a large number of customers (roughly 1/20th of a penny per viewer per commercial), while movies extract a considerably larger amount of money ($10-$20 a ticket) from a smaller number of users. The old Twitter business model (many users, relatively little money per user) wasn't working, even before Musk came along. A much-higher-yield-per-user model could work well, if Musk can connect the right business interests with the right marks... er, customers. After all, it's working for Fox.

If this is what Musk was planning to do, it would be a big help if Donald Trump would return to the platform. Yes, Trump did his big interview with Tucker Carlson on there, but we mean actually returning to his one-time status as an active, tweeting "contributor" of content. And guess what? Yesterday, the prodigal son returned, sending his first tweet since 2021. Maybe this is just a one-time thing, but we doubt it. And, on the whole, the arrows seem to be pointing pretty clearly to what direction Twitter is headed. (Z)

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