Since there’s evidently nothing else going on in the world worth commenting on, economist turned partisan hack columnist Paul Krugman is again going after the left’s current public enemy No. 1, Elon Musk and his ownership of X (formerly Twitter).
Krugman wrote a similar column-length rant in December 2022 about how Twitter was doomed under Musk’s leadership, under the headline “Why Petulant Oligarchs Rule Our World,” concluding by pushing his own esteemed presence on new X-type “micro-blogging” platform, Mastodon. (You remember Mastodon, right? Even with encouraging press coverage, the platform is still far behind X in regular users.)
In his latest column, “Can Twitter, uh, X, Survive Elon Musk?” Krugman, for some reason, doesn’t even mention Mastodon, and indeed he doesn’t appear as active there as he is on X, perhaps because his followers haven’t followed him there (he has 41,000 Mastodon followers vs. 4.5 million on X, a disparity of over 100 to 1). This time around, Krugman suggests the hot new sites that will overtake Twitter are Threads and/or Bluesky.
After he made some unsourced assumptions that X is falling apart….
What does it take to destroy a nexus — a place, real or virtual, where people go because they expect to find other people with whom they want to interact? How much do you need to degrade their experience before they stop coming, initiating a sort of death spiral? Elon Musk may be finding out….X, formerly Twitter, may soon offer a lesson in what it takes to make a nexus implode.
….Krugman tried to sell readers on those next big social media platforms.
The crisis in the Middle East has provided the first big test of the Muskified platform, and my perception, shared by many, is that it is failing that test with flying colors. So is this the tipping point? I don’t have hard data, but my sense is that it may well be. More and more people I follow are posting useful material to other platforms, mainly Threads and Bluesky (which so far is invitation only but is rapidly expanding).
But so far those “network externalities” Krugman talked about are holding up. Despite Musk’s seemingly capricious changes to the platform, X is still where the mass audience Krugman wants to reach remains, and so far they are not following him anywhere else. Perhaps more trademark stellar Krugman prophecy is required to find the killer app that will finally take down X?