Twitter is Allowed to Make Terrible Decisions

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Ben Thompson: Twitter’s Link Ban, Network Portability, China and the Trailing Edge

Twitter can, of course, do what it wants: it is a private company. I recognize that is an unsatisfactory answer, but perhaps the degree to which it has always been unsatisfactory will now resonate more broadly. An extension of this argument is to point out that powers once cheered become feared when in the hands of those with whom you disagree, so it is worth weighing whether such powers ought ever be developed or sanctioned in the first place.

Ben has brought this up a lot since Musk took over Twitter, and it annoys me every time because it’s a massive strawman argument he keeps bringing up, so I’ll state the actual argument here.

Twitter is a private company who runs a social network, and they are completely within their rights to set rules for what can and can not be posted there. This is not unique to Twitter, it applies to every single social network out there, including the numerous conservative ones that proclaim themselves the “free speech network” and then whisper, “within the limits of our TOS and content policies for which we also ban people and content.

Twitter can make these decisions and users can choose how they feel about those decisions and act accordingly. If you don’t like the decisions made by Twitter, then use something else. This is what I believed for years as Twitter made decisions that I agreed and disagreed with, and it remains equally true today. When I generally approved the decisions they made in the past, I used the service. Now that they are not making good decisions and they’re making the service worse for me, I’ve left.

I, and other people who Ben is referring to, are not arguing that Musk is not allowed to block links to Mastodon or close the accounts for journalists he doesn’t like…we just think it’s dumb as shit.

Frankly, it’s bizarre to me that I’m making this argument to people who are more fiscally conservative than I am, but here we are. I think Twitter can make dumb decisions and the market will react to them, it’s that simple.