Mr. Musk’s Twitter, like his money, works in a way that others don’t. He only follows 114 accounts, but his tweets usually get tens of thousands of responses each, and often many more. He opens his Twitter app on what is probably the busiest notifications tab on the entire service, amounting to millions of words aimed at him, largely as regards it.
With every pull of a thumb, the tab is algorithmically replenished from a pool of more new posts than a single human could ever hope to read. It’s a Twitter that is too busy and overloaded to look like Twitter as most people know it, with every possible notification bubble reading “99+” forever.
How Elon Musk Bought Twitter
For most users, Twitter is a place to follow and maybe post people. For a smaller group of users, it is a place to try and gain followers. For someone in Mr. Musk’s position, “it’s like texting the world,” said Jake Updegraff, a celebrity social media manager with experience running large Twitter accounts.
With a large enough audience, Mr. Updegraff, “it’s like a whole forum under everything you post.” It’s an on-demand portal to the center of a media system, where a regular stream of information is replaced by an endless stream of people calling you by name. For the right kind of person, few things could be more intoxicating (or more debilitating).
The ways Mr. Musk has used Twitter for power in the real world are: measured with other tools and at a different scale than any influence he has been able to gather within the platform. They are the most important thing in the future, for him and for the rest of us. Mr. Musk clearly sees value in what Twitter is already doing and what it has allowed him to do, and his desire to protect or prolong those qualities can have serious consequences far beyond the platform.
For deciphering Mr. Musk’s claims about how Twitter could change, his experience with the platform could be instructive. He has used Twitter to promote his companies — Tesla in particular, but also SpaceX, the Boring company, and others — and relentlessly attacked his critics and competitors.