As if they were at an airport or a train station, a host of celebrities have announced their departure from social media platform Twitter in recent weeks.
It comes after Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company, and the sweeping changes he’s already implemented, along with the others still to play out.
The game is changing at Twitter, no doubt, as is Musk’s right, and as is the platform’s need, given its significant reported financial woes.
But this is largely about playing the man.
You see Musk and ‘woke’ do not go hand in hand, and that doesn’t go down well with modern day celebrities.
They like to shout their opinions, views and ethics from the rooftops; they just don’t like it if someone from the other side of the argument wants to shout theirs.
Grammy winner Sara Bareilles Tweeted: “Welp. It’s been fun Twitter. I’m out. See you on other platforms, peeps. Sorry, this one’s just not for me.”
She couldn’t find the button to delete her profile, but at least we know she’s gone. Apparently.
Toni Braxton, who also couldn’t find the delete button, Tweeted: “I’m shocked and appalled at some of the ‘free speech’ I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition. Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.”
I’m shocked and appalled at some of the “free speech” I’ve seen on this platform since its acquisition. Hate speech under the veil of “free speech” is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.
— Toni Braxton (@tonibraxton) October 29, 2022
Oh please. Twitter has been far from a safe place for a long time, POC or not; rampant with fake tweets, bullying, anonymous accounts and unwarranted pile-ons. It has been a cesspit for years.
Shonda Rhimes, who stars on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, joined in: “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.”
Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) October 29, 2022
She’s still hanging around, by the way. And as long as profile stays up the now-Musk owned Twitter benefits.
She may lose that blue tick though, unless she’s willing to fork out some cash, it seems.
The author Stephen King, worth somewhere in the vicinity of $500 million, said he would leave Twitter if the proposed ‘paid for’ verification happened.
“$20 a month to keep my blue check? F**k that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron,” he Tweeted (there’s some irony that these outraged comments are being made on the very platform they’re all threatening to leave).
Musk replied to King: “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?”
This is a whole separate issue in itself. Much like news providers who have struggled to get people to accept that they should pay for news, social media platforms were so desperate to get users in the first instance that they offered way too much for free and it makes monetisation so much tougher.
That is a column for another day. Next week, even.
Back to these wounded A-listers, if that’s what they are.
All of these celebrities can virtue signal and make grand announcements all they like. We get it. You’re not happy that someone not on your team owns Twitter, a platform you use for free that you did not create, nor do you own.
Musk may completely blow up Twitter and it could end up with social media platforms of yesteryear.
Or he could transform it into a profitable, successful brand that tackles some of its troubling issues.
We’ll see where the dust settles.
But the world in which celebrities tend to inhabit is not the real one and what they are or aren’t doing is something none of us should be influenced by.
If these celebrities are so keen to leave Twitter as a result of what they believe it will become under Musk, it must mean they endorsed what Twitter was before.
Which means they endorsed the utter hate and vitriol that Twitter was often best known for; or believed it was right in the mountain of controversies that it has found itself in since its launch in 2006.
I’m not necessarily an Elon Musk fan. I’m not a hater, either.
Nor do I necessarily think that forcing users to pay for verification is the right move, though Twitter’s rules around getting that blue tick certainly need some tweaking.
The blue checkmark is intended to confirm legitimacy, not wealth, but I’m not sure I’d close my account over it. Or even announce to the world, via a Tweet, that I would no longer be Tweeting.
Regardless, all of this will be ironed out. And people will either love and accept the changes, or they’ll walk away en masse.
But we, as mere users who pay zero to use Twitter other than our eyeballs for advertisers and who knows what with our data, have very little right to tell Twitter what it can and can’t do. Like with anything, we either remain a user or we don’t based on what direction they choose to take.
Many of those who have declared their departure have done so because they believe that under Musk’s leadership, banned accounts including that of former President Donald Trump would be reinstated.
However, Musk has said: “Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks.”
Seems entirely sensible to me, and the approach you’d expect any new owner to take, rich erratic white guy or not.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.