Elon Musk – Friend or Foe? This is the question I ask myself.  Is he doing good for technology or is the disruption bad? Twitter CEO Elon Musk is rarely out of the news. As one of the world’s biggest business magnates, announcements and news from him draws great attention. His recent acquisition of Twitter draws daily headlines.

Here are two examples, which have caused disruption and controversy.

In December 2022, many people around the world including myself were locked out of their Twitter accounts due to a problem with two factor authentication. The irony of this is that two factor authentication is a secure way of managing online activity to prevent accounts being compromised.

The security was either so good to prevent access even to ones own account or there was a problem with algorithms, maybe they were manipulated, resulting in users unable access their accounts. I am vague on this, as there has never been a publicly communicated message by Twitter as to what caused the situation.

I was locked out for 10 days without being able to interact with a human being to get the issue resolved. This caused great anxiety. Numerous attempts to contact Twitter failed. However I kept trying and finally on one attempt the contact form on the Twitter website was acknowledged. This really made me reflect on how integral Twitter is the some of our lives and some of our professions.

On Valentine’s Day 2023 for a short period of time Elon Musk “took over” Twitter and the only tweets that could be seen had been initiated by Elon Musk. Including this very telling graphic.

Elon Musk - friend or Foe from Blog Post by Beverly Clarke Consulting Ltd

The Twitter Takeover, caused a certain amount of disruption. Essentially the algorithms upon which Twitter runs had been manipulated so that only tweet’s from Elon Musk appear in Twitter feeds.

According to news reports the reason for this is apparently because Twitter CEO Elon Musk did not like the fact that a Superbowl tweet that he made received fewer impressions then one made by American president Joe Biden.

With my educator hat on, I have reflected upon these two incidents and started to ask myself a few questions, which I feel we should be asking our young people to debate in classrooms across the country.

I also feel we need to keep teaching about algorithms and for our pupils to understand that algorithms are a reflection of what humans decide.  When teaching about algorithms, we need to keep iterating this fact and to use real life examples to illustrate.

Currently in my opinion there isn’t really a credible competitor to Twitter. Hence, we continue to use Twitter.  Maybe there is a need for competitors?   How would the social media landscape look for individuals and organisations if Twitter had competitors?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog. please feel free to share with a link across social media and attribute to me @MsBClarke – if you would like to commission me to write for you as a guest blogger/columnist, then please do get in touch via the contact form on this website.