The handwriting is on the wall in neon that Elon Musk simply does not understand the nature of the beast that he just paid $44 billion for. One of his latest ideas is to charge owners of verified checkmarks $20 a month to possess those checkmarks.

What Musk doesn’t grasp is that the people who have the verified checkmarks are professional journalists, politicians, celebrities of all stripes. They are posting content on Musk’s platform for free, and he should be thrilled.

But instead he wants to gouge the very people that make the platform viable. One such person is Stephen King and this is how that went.

The hilarity here is that Musk thinks it’s about money.

Um…Elon? Stephen King is worth $500 million. He can well afford a $20 bill a month. He’s making a completely different point altogether. The point he’s making (I conjecture) is that Musk is not doing him a service by allowing him to post content. He’s doing Musk a service, as one of the most successful writers in the world, by posting his views and contributing to the platform. Musk should be kissing his ass, not trying to push a tin cup at him and collect a few pennies.

That said, Musk isn’t the only one who has no idea how Twitter works.

The last word of Loupey Gardener’s tweet is cut off. That word is “alive.” Can you believe that? King has written 65 novels, 200 short stories, had his work translated into different languages all over the world and produced for film and television — and Twitter gives the man his relevance?

Now one tweeter in a pack of 235 million people is one thing, but the owner of the platform not knowing which way is up is something else altogether.

A majority of people having blue check marks are journalists. Twitter is a wonderful news medium because it moves at the speed of light. A journalist — or anybody — can get on there and tweet something and if it’s an important, breaking story it’s out there in the world. That’s a tremendous advantage.

It’s also a tremendous downside, because as we saw this weekend, conspiracy theory and vicious libel can also travel at the speed of light.

It continues.

I can’t wait to hear how $20 per month for a blue checkmark is going to defeat bots and trolls.

What I really believe is going on here is that Musk doesn’t know what he has his hands on and frankly that’s scary. I think the best hope that we can hold is that he decides to sell Twitter to somebody else. Say…maybe Stephen King would buy it? He won’t pay $44 billion but he could certainly pay something and the day may soon dawn when Musk runs the place into the ground sufficiently to where he’s happy to pick up anything.

I’ll share a personal note with you here. This Twitter debacle hits me where I live. As you may recall, PolitiZoom used to have a sister site, Daily Sound and Fury. Our work was simultaneously cross-posted on the other site and we took a split of their ad revenues, plus they did all our technical support. It was a good system, worked for years.

Long story short, that site was sold in the last days of 2020. In January, 2021 I was in negotiations with the new owners of DSF and they told me that they “didn’t have to pay” for my (“my” meaning myself and all the other PZ writers’) work, per the Creative Commons license. I said, “That’s true. It’s also true I can modify the license to where that isn’t true.”

I was then “offered” the “opportunity” to give them our content in exchange for a hot link. Somehow the new kids on the block derived the idea that a hot link on their site was worth me giving away content that I could use to generate many dollars worth of ad revenue. This is analogous to your thumbnail telling your heart that you need it to scratch your arm more than you need to pump blood around the body. Clueless doesn’t even begin to touch it, and we won’t even talk about the implied insult.

I told them that without breaking news and original content they were going to plummet in the search engines, like a rock. And they did. The month after we left Daily Sound and Fury plummeted from 94K users to 28K users and then the numbers went down steadily from there. Media Bias did an update on them in late August and listed them as a Minimal Traffic site.

The new owners ended up losing their investment, whereas if they had played ball with me — and all I wanted was a 50/50 split —  they would be sitting pretty.

Point being, you can’t tell some people. They think they know how something works and they simply do not. In this case, the owners of DSF got rid of the site and fobbed it off on some poor guy who knows even less than they do and who, comically, told me that he was going to report me to the sheriff of Clark County — for insulting him via email, I think.  I didn’t know that was a crime. Is it a tort even? Didn’t think so.

Moral of the story: people who buy businesses that they do not understand have an expensive lesson coming to them.


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  1. More proof (as if any were needed after this weekend) that Elon is in way over his head. One of the things I prize about King on Twitter is he uses minimum words for maximum effect (I’m sure he lives by the same writing maxim I do: if I thought words were cheap, I wouldn’t charge so much to write them). This is actually one of his longest Tweets on record, likely because he wanted there to be no misunderstanding. And Musk misunderstood (deliberately or not) anyway!

  2. He’s making people at Twitter work 12/7 to hit his ridiculous deadlines. With no clue whether they’ll get paid OT, comp time, or even keep their jobs. That’s not a good boss. (IMO, 10 hours is more than enough of a work day.)

    • Only in America, the rest of the world has settled on 8 hours, 8 for your boss, 8 for you and 8 for sleep, each day. 10 hours is an exception, with 2 hours overtime. And two days for the weekend.

      Since the 1890s.

      • And eight for the boss isn’t really eight for the boss. If you calculate having to get up early, get on the freeway, bla bla, it comes out to be more like ten for the boss.

    • What Twitter insider fed you that little tid bit P J? Sounds like the Jane Fonda, POW story to me, made up. Already Concinnity has decided to buy into it, properly vetted of course. Of course?

  3. Anyone who thought trust-fund baby’s purchase of this nonsensical company would make it relevant, is likely to give trust-fund whatever he asks for just to use the garbage. Thankfully, intelligent people like King are quite happy to point this out. Thank you Stephen.

  4. I don’t post on Twitter or facebook…sites that promote fascism etc. & allowed Trump to post lies for years. The pluses don’t outweigh the damage done as we are finding out daily.

    • i only ‘use’ them because entities that I follow happen to be based on them, they are simply their location, and not really the format I enjoy using. So I may go on Twitter once in a week, and facebook once or twice a day. I don’t ‘collect’ other humans or regard anyone I happen to respond to as a ‘friend’ – that would be dangerous ! The only positive really is that I ‘found’ a person who was my buddy in my youth 60+ years ago – and that was wonderful !

  5. It’s my understanding that the dude who had Twitter before (and knows WTF he’s doing I should add) is already at the beta testing stage for another site. IF that’s true and he creates an alternative that does what twitter has done & addresses problems like hate speech and disinformation (that’s a lot, but with the right people it could be done if they were given free reign to write the proper software – and FB is losing people who aren’t happy with how Z-Man has run that site) Twitter could well be fucked.

    It will turn into a giant version of Parler (ParlerTwit?) and advertisers will flee in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t it be funny if Trump could con some people into funding his buying Twitter from Musk who might be happy to sell at a big loss? If Musk carries through on his pledge to cut the hell out of staffing who’s going to maintain the operations of that site? It takes a lot of people working to meet new challenges that come up every day to deal with all those bots and other stuff. The attacks and fucking with that or any other site aren’t static. As one problem is defended those with ill will modify their approach – it’s a never ending struggle. And far more complicated than overcoming engineering challenges to produce a new type of car or rocket which is challenging as hell. The thing is, with those once you’ve solved a problem it’s solved. After that, making changes to improve it is relatively simple. I think Musk mistakenly believes Twitter is the same thing but it’s not. The problems don’t stay solved!

    I still am of the mind he got cold feet long ago, and would have paid even more than the contractual two billion to get out of the deal. It was the board of Twitter, who wanted their goddamned financial windfall that forced the deal through. I am just as angry at them as Musk, and I for one want to know why THEIR names, as Directors of a (then) publicly traded corporation weren’t being trumpted in the news! And aren’t even now for that matter. I also wonder what changed that Musk suddenly switched and decided to get the deal done. SOMETHING happened. And whatever was is/was bad.

    As with so much else this is likely to get a lot uglier in the weeks and months ahead. But if Dorsey is almost ready to unveil an alternative Musk’s tenure as owner of Twitter, and Twitter itself will be short-lived. (And it would seem Dorsey is going to have the pick of the litter when it comes to software engineers to build out a competing platform – from both twitter and FB!)

    • “I think Musk was simply forced to buy the darned thing because he had got too far into the deal to back out. He was embarrassed & is now thrashing around looking like an idiot. So then he sacked all the top people ? Looks like his ego is in charge to me !

  6. More proof that some of the younger crowd doesn’t read if they think Stephen King is less relevant than obnoxious Elon. King made his money through hard work.and talent Pre-Carrie, he was an English teacher full.time and write at night. He was raised by a single Mom and was at best middle class for many years. Emerald Mine Elon was born with a platinum spoon up.his arse. Like Trump, he is a,paper tiger. He is very good at self-aggrandizement like the PR flack he is but he himself has designed nothing.

    • Stephen King was very broke. He and his wife tell a story about how they used to have the phone disconnected when it became too expensive and they just lived without a phone until they got more flush again. King’s wife worked at the local donut shop when he taught English. They know what it is to go from poor to rich. Musk hasn’t got a clue what most people live like.

  7. Well Elon just isn’t that smart. He got rich by accident. He really didn’t have some green idea. It was a fluke. For awhile he didn’t even build cars. He was getting credits for green energy and was selling them to other factories so that they could get green new deal credits. Had nothing to do with brilliance.


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