Molly Jong-Fast on why she'll keep tweeting until the lights go out
"Maybe Elon will have a come to Jesus moment and it will be normal again. I think that’s unlikely, but it’s possible."
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Eccentric billionaire/right-wing reply guy Elon Musk has owned Twitter for less than a month, but he’s already turned it into a complete circus.
Twitter staffers who haven’t been purged are fleeing in droves. Users are trying to make the best of a bad situation by relentlessly dunking on the site’s new, very sensitive owner, with many getting their accounts suspended in the process. Every morning seemingly brings news of an outrageously offensive thing Elon tweeted and deleted overnight. Next week apparently will bring the blanket reinstatement of accounts that were banned for hate speech, harassment, misinformation, and other offenses.
As is the case with trainwrecks, it’s hard to look away. But Twitter’s sudden decline is actually tragic. The platform has been a game changer for lots of journalists and creators, including those in marginalized communities and authoritarian countries where information is restricted. There’s lots of valid fear that an indispensable tool for promoting things you’ve been working on and meeting like-minded people is already damaged beyond repair.
Some disaffected tweeters are migrating to Mastodon, but not everyone’s happy with its complexity. A lot of people are hoping Twitter will somehow survive Elon’s incompetent leadership, or maybe a sleek alternative will enter the scene. No one is sure what’s going to happen — especially Elon, who seems to be winging it.
Molly Jong-Fast is an accomplished writer who’s been as effective as anyone in using Twitter to grow her audience. She now has over a million followers due in part to her witty and insightful lefty tweets about US politics. Having a following of that size is valuable professional currency in this social media age, and Jong-Fast recently left the Atlantic to start a new gig at Vanity Fair. (She also hosts the popular Fast Politics podcast.)
Jong-Fast is on Mastodon and recently has been promoting a new social platform called Post, but she’s also written about how she plans no plans to ditch Twitter.
So with Twitter itself in the news now perhaps more than ever before, we thought it would be a good time to catch up with Jong-Fast for her thoughts on the platform’s troubles and much more, including her new gig, the journalism industry, and even how her mom (Erica Jong) is doing these days.
A lightly edited transcript of the conversation, which took place earlier this month, follows.
You’ve said you have no immediate plans to ditch Twitter. What do you think about how it’s going under Elon?
Look, I think Elon’s going to kill the site, but I’ll ride it all the way to zero. Until he does, I’ll stay, and then I’ll go to Mastodon or whatever there is. There will be something like it. I’ll just take whatever that is. I don’t have any ego about this. It’s been very good for me, and I like it.