Disney almost bought Twitter but backed off because "the nastiness is extraordinary"

My main point was that an acquistion of Twitter by Disney would go against all of their corporate and brand values, and not just because of the toxicity of the brand. Disney runs a tight ship (sometimes too tight, esp. in the IP department), for example, while Twitter is run by a bunch of serial screw-ups. Also, Disney sticks to the middle of the road politically (ABC News is about as “edgy” as it gets in that regard – CNN is owned by AT&T/Time-Warner), where Twitter entertains extreme views on both sides as its deranged form of “centrism”.

Disney’s corporate values (how it operates as a company) and its brand values (how it represents itself to consumers) are, relevantly, two very different things. For instance, the company’s corporate values include things like insulating and enabling John Lasseter and stealing wages from animators and workers in their parks. I think acquiring Twitter would’ve been perfectly aligned with the modern Disney agenda; the problem is that the process they’d have to go through to “Disnefy” Twitter would result in it becoming so unlike what it currently is and what people like me currently value it for that it’d instantly become irrelevant.

So yes, Twitter is a wash at best when it comes to toxicity. Any of the progressive movements you mention would have found platforms and the equivalent of hashtags if Twitter didn’t exist, and Dorsey seems to think that it’s only fair to give Gamergators a platform if MeToo gets one, and to give white supremacists a chance to be heard if BLM does. And then there’s their number 1 user (usually doing a number 2 in the Oval Office’s bathroom while he tweets at 3AM).

I find it to be highly speculative to say those movements would’ve been as successful on other platforms or achieved the success they did without Twitter. What makes Twitter effective for organizers is also, unfortunately, what makes it effective at campaigns like “Gamergate”. But for me, that’s not a reason to not have Twitter any more than it’s a reason to note have books, or YouTube, or Meetup or Kickstarter, all of which can be used to organize people around causes we don’t like.

Twitter being relatively democratic means, by necessity, it will entertain extreme views on both sides of the political spectrum – which is why it’s interesting and necessary and particularly antithetical to media behemoths like Disney. Shit, the cultural phenomenon of Black Twitter and the movements that’ve come out of it alone justify Twitter’s existence.

It’s a rubbish platform in a different way that Facebook is a rubbish platform. The sooner they both go away – I hope to be replaced by federated, decentralised platforms that no-one can acquire – the better.

It’s not the ideal, but I personally would rather have it than not. In the past decade, I think there are several stories that would not have penetrated mainstream consciousness if not for Twitter specifically.

While there are differences and Disney is far from a saint amongst companies, their corporate and brand values very much overlap in this area. Where Twitter takes its “moderate centrist”/meet-in-the-middle approach to ideological and social issues, Disney tries to avoid them altogether (ABC News being the exception, and they also assiduously avoid extremes). And where Twitter’s internal governance and public face are both chaotic and ad hoc, Disney runs a tightly controlled ship internally and customer-facing.

Another platform or tech company would have eventually come up with the equivalent of “broadcast SMS”. Unfortunately, alt-right sympathiser/Freeze Peach absolutist Dorsey got their first, so Twitter is what we’re stuck with.

A corporation has a choice about who it platforms and who it doesn’t. A well-run platform – even one that runs on the dodgy engagement-driven advertising-based business model – can make the choice to allow for lots of non-mainstream views to be heard while simultaneously disallowing Nazis, white supremacists, Russian disinformation bots, climate-change denialist astroturfers and other bad actors trying to promote discredited and/or destructive ideas. Twitter, for various reasons, chooses not to make that choice.

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