Solomon: Is Elon Musk's Twitter Beginning to Fall Apart?
This is what my Twitter experience looked like on Wednesday night:
I knew something was wrong, as I follow less than 100 people. I didn’t think one more was excessive.
I was unable to tweet, yet a Google search didn’t indicate that Twitter was down.
It was, of course — in what has become a far more regular occurrence in the Elon Musk Twitter era — a Twitter system glitch.
Why it happened was pretty simple and was tweeted by a Fortune reporter:
SCOOP: Elon has emailed staff following the Twitter outage.
“Please pause for now on new feature development in favor of maximizing system stability and robustness, especially with the Super Bowl coming up.”
— Kylie Robison (@kyliebytes) February 8, 2023
This is going to happen more often. Twitter users need to adjust to the new reality of using the service.
Musk’s months of deep staff cuts have resulted in a company culture now described as “extremely hardcore,” but for users, what’s going to be hard is getting reliable service.
All of this begs the question: Will advertisers flock in greater numbers and pay more to advertise on a far less reliable platform?
That’s a firm no. Not only has Twitter not yet been successful in wooing new advertisers, but it has also been unsuccessful in keeping existing ones, as The Wall Street Journal reported just before Christmas.
What does this mean for Tesla?
Even with Musk’s huge win last week defending against a Tesla-related class action lawsuit, the Tesla and Twitter brands are inextricably linked as long as Musk owns both companies. The end result is that every hit either brand takes can be felt by the other. When Twitter goes down, Tesla’s brand value feels it.
Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg perfectly summed up the Tesla end of the Twitter situation immediately following the outage:
cannot imagine getting in a self-driving car made by this guy
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) February 8, 2023
Rothenberg’s tweet highlights the real problem here. At a time when Twitter and Musk absolutely cannot afford to lose anybody’s confidence in the viability of the service, that’s exactly what’s happening.
William H. Cooper, a New York attorney, observed:
“For most people, it’s not that the scope and nature of Wednesday’s outage were catastrophic; it’s that it happened at all. Some people have grown so reliant on Twitter in their personal and professional lives that it impacts them when the service goes down for what they consider an extended time.”
Twitter doesn’t care very much about losing users. People have said for ages that they’re going to platforms such as Mastodon, which they are absolutely not, at least in large numbers. When Twitter loses users, they will pick up new users — that’s the pretty simple calculus.
What matters more than anything to Twitter is the reality of advertising dollars and bringing in new money from advertisers. Anything that shakes the public’s confidence in the viability of Twitter is going to equally shake the confidence of advertisers whom Musk is asking to spend more on the service.
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