Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has today announced she is leaving Twitter/X (her announcement in Le Monde here, news story from Politico here). I think she rather overdoes the rhetoric, but that’s not the central point – she is an important politician deciding to abandon the platform, and that is significant. A few others – notably SPD politicians Kevin Kühnert and Saskia Esken – have done likewise. But at the time of writing there are still 27 of the 27 members of the European Commission happily tweeting away, at the same as one of them is berating Twitter/X on Twitter/X for its misinformation problems.
This strikes me as one of the main tipping points towards Twitter/X’s irrelevance in European politics – major players close their accounts. While few have yet acted, I am quite sure there are a bunch more wondering whether to do what Hidalgo did.
The second impact is when the atmosphere on Twitter is so bad even advertisers abandon the platform. While Commissioners are still there, at least the European Commission has suspended all advertising on Twitter/X. Business Insider reckons Musk’s latest anti semitic missives have cost the company $75m. Does the financial situation at some point become so bad that creditors start to get seriously worried, and force a course correction? Or does the worsening financial situation make the user experience even worse?
This point itself should not be neglected either – a worsening user experience on the platform. Twitter/X is even more clogged with accounts of questionable quality than it was, the old verification system has gone, and unless you pay you have to use the default web interface or app. The experience using the tool has undoubtedly worsened.
While I am not expecting speedy legal action from the EU, there is nevertheless the threat of fines for Twitter/X’s lack of action on misinformation – and were the European Commission to find systematic wrongdoing, might that further contribute to the sense that the whole thing is a sinking ship?
And then – perhaps most important of all – we need good quality alternatives to Twitter – both in terms of the technical functions of the tool, and in terms of the type of people using that network. For years journalists have simply dropped Tweets into news stories when someone significant says something (this is an example today – NDR just embeds a tweet from mayor Belit Onay in a story about Hannover’s coalition falling apart), but at the moment the main alternatives to Twitter/X do not fulfil this function. A politician like Onay is not likely to even be on Mastodon, but is more likely on Bluesky – but Bluesky currently has no public web interface, so no way for a over worked journalist to just dump a link into a news story. Such a function is in planning. And I simply cannot see how LinkedIn can ever fulfil this kind of news breaking function, even though I have seen an up tick of politicians sharing their inspirational work achievements there.
It’s 365 days since I decided to stop using Twitter – announced in this blog post. I must admit I expected these cycles of decline to have worked faster than they have, but I must say I see nothing in Musk’s behaviour to give me any hope this is not going simply go on getting worse. The question is only how and when this combination of tipping points is reached.