ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Robin Abcarian: Elon Musk's Twitter chaos came calling for me

From the commentary: But for me, on March 12, Twitter went kaput

This illustration photo taken on Aug. 5, 2022, shows a cellphone displaying a photo of Elon Musk placed on a computer monitor filled with Twitter logos in Washington, D.C.
This illustration photo taken on Aug. 5, 2022, shows a cellphone displaying a photo of Elon Musk placed on a computer monitor filled with Twitter logos in Washington, D.C.
(Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

When Elon Musk strode into Twitter's San Francisco headquarters in October, toting a bathroom sink, it did seem possible that the social media platform might soon be circling the very drain he held in his hands.

WCT.OP.Commentary.jpg
From the commentary: Whether public pressure can alter the course of the current Supreme Court is not at all a certainty. But with the justices serving with impunity for life, for those who wish to oppose this nation reversing the painful and tortuous progress it has made in moving toward the ideals it claims to espouse, there is little choice but to try.
From the commentary: Now it is up to the whips in the Congress to deliver. I always get nervous when politicians start talking about what the "American people" want, as if anyone can speak for a monolith, let alone one as divided as we are.
From the commentary: It's not yet a done deal. Plenty more could happen before the measure is approved, or not. Whether approved in the current or another form, given past scenarios it is more likely to benefit the politicians and their careers than a majority of overburdened and fed-up taxpayers.

When Elon Musk strode into Twitter's San Francisco headquarters in October, toting a bathroom sink, it did seem possible that the social media platform might soon be circling the very drain he held in his hands.

So much of the Twitter-using world was aghast at Musk's purchase of the popular but unprofitable social media platform. For weeks, the speculation raged:

He'd wreck Twitter by letting banned troublemakers like former President Donald Trump back on.

He'd charge for the infamous blue check that denotes "legitimacy," rendering it meaningless.

ADVERTISEMENT

He'd make sure that his own tweets would top every user's timeline.

More ominously: He would crumble under the immense debt load he incurred by taking Twitter private.

I followed the controversies but not terribly closely.

Of course, Twitter has become an indispensable platform for many of its millions of users. But unlike many journalists, I don't live for every post and retweet. For me, it's been a great tip service; I get lots of column ideas about topics people are passionate about. Mainly for professional reasons โ€” and to procrastinate, of course โ€” I dip in and out of Twitter multiple times a day.

On balance, the platform is a hugely positive phenomenon for its users, although volumes have been and will be filled about its misuse by propagandists, conspiracy theorists and hate mongers from all points on the political and cultural spectrum.

And, of course, there's no snark like Twitter snark.

It was a tragic day for many reasons when conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart dropped dead of a heart attack in 2012 at age 43. Selfishly, I still mourn the demise of his brutal but immensely entertaining daily Twitter war with liberal media critic Eric Boehlert, who also suffered an untimely death after being hit by a train while riding his bike last year. The two of them turned Twitter into, as one Breitbart admirer put it, "a tool of combat."

These days, I love perusing the replies to posts by right-wing ideologues like U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia. I'm enamored of porn actress Stormy Daniels' bawdy takedowns of the Former Guy and his supporters. (Trumper tweet: "President Trump wouldn't touch you with a 10-foot pole." Daniels' reply: "True. He touched me with a three-inch one.")

ADVERTISEMENT

After Musk sacked about half of Twitter's workforce and the site was awash in glitches and outages with apparently not enough engineers to right the ship, many users speculated the end days were near. For a while after the Musk takeover, its trending hashtags included #GoodbyeTwitter and #RIPTwitter.

The good news is that Twitter is, as the New York Times put it late last month, "unlikely to go kaput."

Well, maybe for you.

But for me, on March 12, Twitter went kaput.

I was watching a movie when an email from Twitter landed in my inbox: "Email address for @AbcarianLAT changed." A link had been sent to the new email address, "ga********@g****.***" and if that wasn't me, Twitter asked, "please contact Twitter support immediately."

That wasn't me, so I clicked on the enclosed link, which sent me to a support form, which I filled out. I didn't think much of it, but I was unable to open my Twitter account @AbcarianLAT . That was slightly inconvenient, but not a major bummer. Also, my profile photo had disappeared.

A few days later, Twitter support emailed to tell me that my Los Angeles Times email address, the one I'd used to register my Twitter account in 2009, was not the email associated with my account. What the hell?

You can't actually email or call a human being at Twitter, so I filled out another form explaining who I was, that I was locked out of my account and that the Times email should be associated with it. I had a couple more frustrating exchanges with nonhuman Twitter, and then, unbidden, it assigned me a new handle, @abcarian84006. I wrote again and said I wanted my old account back.

ADVERTISEMENT

After that, I was never able to get back into @AbcarianLAT. I had almost 10,000 followers, which is not very many in the grand scheme of journalism Twitter. In fact, one of my colleagues once described my Twitter account as "tragically underfollowed." Whatever. It was mine and I liked it.

After 10 days or so, figuring I would never again be able to access my account, I created a new one (see below). My profile photo is me, as the Wicked Witch of the West, and my golden retriever as the Cowardly Lion. My background banner is a photo of my father flipping the bird in front of the Trump National Golf Course in Palos Verdes.

I now have 10 precious followers, to whom I pledge eternal loyalty.

On Monday, I couldn't believe it when another email from Twitter landed in my inbox: "Your Twitter account has been reactivated! Welcome back!"

Oh wow, I thought, I guess I overreacted when I created that whole new account. Hasta la vista, 10 new followers. @AbcarianLAT is back!

Alas, it was not. Twitter was merely reactivating the account I never asked for in the first place, @abcarian84006.

As of now, @AbcarianLAT is still there, frozen in time. Since March 12, no one has accessed it, or hacked into it, as far as I can tell. I don't really understand what happened, and so far, Twitter won't or can't explain it to me.

This week, because Musk is drowning in debt, he shook up the Twitterverse once more.

ADVERTISEMENT

Starting next month, he announced, blue check marks, introduced in 2009 to verify identities and delegitimize impersonators, would officially be available only to those willing to pay $8 a month. And Twitter's algorithm, he vows, will no longer promote, or recommend, tweets from accounts without blue check marks.

More Opinion:
From the commentary: There can be only one priority in 2024 if Trump is a candidate: making sure the country's fate is not put back into the hands of a man already proved to be reckless, undemocratic, dishonest, self-dealing and supportive of violence.
From the commentary: Based on what he has done to date, Ron DeSantis' pledge to do for America what he has done for Florida may not frighten the right wing of the Republican Party, many of them Trumpers, but it may not hold up so well among general election voters, who overwhelmingly support Roe v. Wade and think well of Mickey Mouse. And Trump remains the 600-pound gorilla on the Republican side.
From the commentary: The growing number of entrants is good news for the front-runner, who benefits from facing fragmented opposition as he did in 2016. But it's also good news for Republican voters, who are not only getting more candidates to choose from, but also more ideas about their party's post-Trump future โ€” even though that may not arrive until 2028.
From the commentary: If we have lost our will as a nation to define what's right and to do it, then we have lost our way in a world that is increasingly being dominated by China, whose president, Xi Jinping, may have correctly diagnosed us as a nation in "decline."
From the commentary: Casey DeSantis has three young children to raise while her husband runs for president. Anyone and everyone can find something to fault her for in how she chooses to balance her family and the campaign and on her roles as wife, partner and mother, which is why none of us should be sitting in judgment.
From the commentary: College grads not only make more money on average; they live longer, according to research.
From the commentary: The numbers: Republicans hold a House majority of only nine members, one of whom is the notorious George Santos. Biden won 18 of the districts currently held by Republicans. One can assume that many of their swing-voting constituents are most unhappy over the party's opposition to reproductive rights. They're sickened by its defense of lunatics' strutting through Walmarts with weapons of war.
From the commentary: If Florida Democrats find an acceptable candidate, they might just recapture the governorship. America probably doesn't want to become DeSantis' Florida. Florida may not like that either.
From the commentary: For now, parents have no choice but to do the best they can to protect children based on insights from experts and researchers.
From the commentary: Not only must DeSantis effectively introduce himself in these and other states, he must overcome former president Donald Trump's large lead in the polls.

I lost my check mark when I got locked out of my original account; I don't intend to pay for a new one. I never expected to be anything more than a bystander to all the drama at Twitter, but quite unwittingly, I seem to have been swept up in it.

But here's the thing: My sense of self-worth has never risen or fallen on my Twitter status. I can still peruse Twitter for news just as I did before.

And with a new identity, I now have access to accounts that have blocked the old me โ€” talking to you, @HeyTammyBruce!

Robin Abcarian is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. This commentary is the columnist's opinion. Send feedback to: opinion@wctrib.com.

ยฉ2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT