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We’re in Denial About the True Cost of a Twitter Implosion

Wired: “…But if we judge Twitter’s influence by its active users, we underestimate it massively. It has no peer as a forge of public opinion. In political analysis, publishing, public health, foreign policy, economics, history, the study of race, even in business and finance, Twitter has come to drive who gets quoted in the press. Who opines on TV. Who gets a podcast. In foreign affairs and political analysis, especially, it often determines whom we consider an authority. Almost every academic and journalist I know has come to read Twitter, even if they don’t have accounts. It’s easy to calculate Twitter’s economic value as a company: That’s underpinned by reported ad revenue, $4.51 billion last year (and plummeting fast). But there’s a far, far vaster realm beyond that, what an economist might call the secondary value of Twitter. That encompasses the cash people make out of connections or prestige they develop on Twitter, but also the intangible wealth now vested in its communities and in the sense it offers to people of having a place in the world. That human currency cannot just be ported over, unchanged, to Mastodon. There are whole nations whose political discourse occurs mainly on Twitter. The amount of reputational and social wealth that stands to be lost if Twitter collapses is astounding. Twitter currently functions as perhaps the world’s biggest status bank, and the investments stored in it are terrifyingly unsecured.”

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