I’m a Proud Member of the Rebel Alliance
The war in Ukraine is a tragedy to watch. Whether or not like Sean Penn, who claims he’s thinking of taking arms to fight Russia, or like most of the corporate media you are rooting for Ukraine and demonizing Russia, you have to admire Ukrainian pluck. You also have to be astonished at the poor performance of the Russian military, who apparently lost their flagship missile cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea either by missile strike (U.S. claim) or accidental fire (Russian claim). I grieve for the suffering of those displaced by the war and the loss of life. I remain opposed to establishing a no-strike zone over Ukraine or the placement of U.S. troops there.
But for the moment, like my cat following the red laser dot (I concede) my attention is on Elon Musk’s effort to buy Twitter. Like Wretchard, I see this as a critical effort to break the monopoly of news reporting.
I’m old-fashioned enough to believe there’s usually more than one side to a story and more than one acceptable belief, and I have long resented the extensive labor it takes to see the other side. How long did it take, for example, to get the truth of the Trayvon Martin matter known if you had not seen the extensive, detailed analysis and almost daily reporting in the Conservative Treehouse and relied only on corporate accounts? When did you first learn, if you were not an internet aficionado, that the George W. Bush National Guard story published by Dan Rather was entirely made up? A long time, if you didn’t go to Free Republic or Little Green Footballs. More recently, how long was it before, in the face of irrefutable fact, the RussiaGate story was revealed as a total hoax cooked up by Hillary Clinton, her lawyers, and the FBI and media friends? If you were unaware of sites like the Illustrated Primer, when if ever did you learn the sordid details of the Hunter Biden laptop? Twitter banned messages about it, the mainstream media ignored it. Do you, like so many journalists, seriously contend that censorship is free speech?
The internet for a while -- when people communicated on individual websites -- provided a freer exchange of facts and viewpoints, but then outfits like Facebook and Twitter captured most of the traffic while Google manipulated the searches. Now DuckDuckGo does as well. And after the capture of so much of the internet communications, Big Tech used their almost monopolistic power to promote those political figures and viewpoints they approve of and deplatformed and shadowbanned all others, often removing the content of the posts to which they objected.
It's of no small interest that the loudest objections to the Musk move have been journalists and pundits themselves. Why not? They controlled internet communications almost as completely as other countries’ dictators do. Instapundit captures Glenn Greenwald’s take, which I fully endorse.
But, is there more to it than protecting their monopoly?
There’s one hint in Saudi Prince Talal, who owns a substantial share of Twitter, voicing his opposition to the sale. Conservative Treehouse makes a very interesting point. How much of Twitter has been secretly subsidized by the U.S. government, and what is the cost to free speech of such secret censorship?
Read it all. He explains in detail why there is no business model for Twitter. I can only summarize it here:
In the big picture of tech platforms, Twitter, as an operating model, is a massive high-user commenting system.
Twitter is not a platform built around a website; Twitter is a platform for comments and discussion that operates in the sphere of social media. As a consequence, the technology and data processing required to operate the platform does not have an economy of scale.
There is no business model where Twitter is financially viable to operate…. UNLESS the tech architecture under the platform was subsidized.
In my opinion, there is only one technological system and entity that could possibly underwrite the cost of Twitter to operate. That entity is the United States Government [snip]
According to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter has approximately 217 million registered daily users, and their goal is to expand to 315 million users by the end of 2023. [snip] [With each new user], the cost increases because the servers need to respond to all the simultaneous users. [snip]
The key to understanding the Twitter dynamic is to see the difference between, (a) running a website, where it doesn’t really matter how many people come to look at the content (low server costs), and (b) running a user engagement system, where the costs to accommodate the data processing -- which increase exponentially with a higher number of simultaneous users -- are extremely expensive. Twitter’s entire platform is based on the latter.
There is no economy of scale in any simultaneous user engagement system. Every added user costs exponentially more in data-processing demand, because every user needs a response, and every simultaneous user (follower) requires the same simultaneous response. [snip]
If you understand the cost increases in the data demand for simultaneous users, you can see the business model for Twitter is non-existent.
Bottom line, more users means it costs Twitter more money to operate. The business model is backwards from traditional business. More customers = higher costs, because each customer brings more simultaneous users…. which means exponentially more data performance is needed. [snip]
The only way Twitter, with 217 million users, could exist as a viable platform is if they had access to tech systems of incredible scale and performance, and those systems were essentially free or very cheap. The only entity that could possibly provide that level of capacity and scale is the United States Government -- combined with a bottomless bank account.
If he’s right, and I think he may well be, what does this mean about Google, Facebook or, even now, Duck Duck Go? Are they all subsidized in some way by the government or even foreigners like Talal?
Are we all serfs kept under the thumb by platforms secretly subsidized by the Deep State and foreign interests? That the SEC has decided to investigate other Musk operations suggests to me that his offer to buy Twitter has set off serious alarms in the galactic empire. Musk seems to think so.