Social Media Wars
Where few battles are over making your own product better.
You may have heard about the growing feud between a couple of social-media billionaires: Elon Musk (who owns Twitter) and Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook and CEO of Meta Platforms). I guess they’ve been bickering back and forth for a while now. I hadn’t paid much attention to any of it until talk of the two going head to head in a mixed-martial-arts “cage match” heated up. Both men have actually entertained the idea, with Musk apparently open to the stipulation of pod-caster Joe Rogan refereeing it.
There’s a big market for such a thing, according to UFC President Dana White. I guess he would know. I haven’t followed MMA stuff since the less-polished but more eclectic good old days of Dan “The Beast” Severn, Tank Abbott, and Don “The Predator” Frye (the latter of which I have an interesting personal story I’ll tell one of these days).
That was back in the early and mid 90s. MMA competition has become much bigger since then — mainstreamed in American culture, with even YouTube celebrities entering the fray. Thus, I guess two filthy-rich tech moguls throwing kicks and punches would be a natural extension of where things have been heading.
The latest battle between Musk and Zuckerberg, however, is not being fought in an octagon, but rather in the arena of business competition. Before I describe it, I think a little background information is in order…
Truth be told, Twitter has been going right down the toilet under Musk’s ownership and direction, both in usability and business worth. When Musk bought the company at an inflated price last year, he claimed it was to advance free speech. He had been troubled by political and ideological suppression practices under the company’s previous owners, and he wanted to right the ship. He says he’s cleared up those issues (I’m doubtful), but in striving to earn a return on his big investment, he has royally screwed up, rolled back, or pay-walled the features that people liked, while imposing other features that no one seems to like. Coupled with a dramatic reduction in Twitter’s workforce (including lots of developers), the platform has become exceedingly buggy and really kind of a pain in the ass to use.
And astonishingly, Musk doesn’t seem to care. While longtime users lodge daily complaints, and more and more of them leave every day, Musk has spent an inordinate amount of time using his platform to troll his critics and advance political conspiracy theories.
It’s all very weird.
Zuckerberg, however, has apparently been paying attention to disaffected Twitter users. He snatched up dozens of the developers that Musk fired, and last week released Meta’s own version of Twitter called Threads. A companion app to Instagram (also part of Meta Platforms), Threads attracted tens of millions of signups in just a few hours, and so far the user feedback has been pretty darned good.
Musk’s almost immediate response was to threaten legal action against Zuckerberg, accusing Meta’s CEO of engaging “in systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property,” citing Zuckerberg’s hiring of former Twitter employees who “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information.”
A Twitter pal of mine had a great response to Musk’s move: “It’s very unfair to Elon Musk that all the Twitter employees he fired didn’t stay fired.”
I have no idea where things will end up legally between Musk and Zuckerberg, but what’s clear is that Musk isn’t taking this well at all:
A “cuck,” for folks fortunate enough not be familiar with the term, is a man who is okay with his wife having sex with other men. Yikes.
You may be thinking by now that I’m taking Zuckerberg’s side in all of this, but to tell you the truth, I couldn’t care less about either of these guys or their little feud. If they want to pull on Speedos and slap-fight each other, or sue each other into oblivion, that’s fine with me. Have at it, kids.
I do, however, care about their platforms, because I use them to promote things (like my books and columns), and keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. That being the case, all I really want (but am certainly not entitled to) from Musk and Zuckerberg is for them to fix their own platforms. Because frankly, Facebook is every bit as buggy and unappealing as Twitter is these days. The desktop experience is a mess, operations that used to require one or two clicks now take five, and strange error messages are popping up all the time. Both platforms used to be much funner and friendlier than they are now.
For some reason, that’s what’s gotten lost in the social media wars: a desire to improve platforms and keep people interested in using them.
I don’t understand why.
Have a favorite social media platform? Let me know it in an email or in the comment section below.
Obligatory Dog Shot(s)
Introducing Kyson, our new foster dog! We picked this big boy up on Saturday (after a long trip in from Oklahoma), and he’s making himself right at home. He loves people and gets along with other dogs just fine (despite Squiggy routinely trash-talking him). He’ll be staying with us until he finds his forever home through Big Bones Canine Rescue.
If you’re looking for a four-legged companion, and want to learn more about this guy, send me an email or leave a comment in the section below.
Have you picked up your copy of RESTITUTION?
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I’m kicking myself, for obvious reasons, for not featuring this album last week.
Composer John Williams’ 1978 follow-up Jaws-work is absolutely great. He built off the original film’s score, and the result is a very solid soundtrack that — like the first movie — immensely helps drive the story. Plus the album art is fantastic, depicting one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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