Proposal: turn Twitter into a user-owned co-op


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/04/proposal-turn-twitter-into-a.html


#2

For the longest time, I’ve thought that twitter should be nationalized and put under the purview of the US post office.


#3

What happens when assholes own 51% of it? And don’t deny that it’s going to happen because, relentless positivity aside, this is the internet.

/waits in line to Tweet


#4

Twitter & FacefuckingBook are synonomously repulsive.


#5

Has anybody ever been successful at turning a highly profitable business into a co-op? I would be really surprised. The people with the power do not simply give it away.

The pessimism in the article notwithstanding, it should be possible to create a non-profit counter-Twitter, just as there are non-profit cell phone companies. Non-profit doesn’t mean no money; it means you either spend everything that comes in, or give away the extra. Blue Cross and Blue Shield were originally non-profit.

Of course, Twitter could probably crush the tiniest competition, and probably would, too. But it’s not an obviously stupid idea.


#6

Why buy it? Why centralize it? Why not distribute it?


#7

Here is how to predict exactly how that will turn out. Head on over to efnet or undernet and just wander around for awhile, most especially among the various political channels. That’s conglomerate authority social media.


#8

I’m very interested in the idea of grass-roots takeovers of civically important businesses, such as utilities. It seems like this should be totally feasible in the case of sustainable, publicly-traded companies; just organise people to buy one share each until you have a controlling interest. Perhaps there’s some flaw in the plan that I haven’t thought of.

In the case of Twitter, though, the problem seems pretty obvious: you can’t run a business as a co-op if it doesn’t make money. Twitter relies on cash from investors to keep the lights on. So if it were a co-op, that would amount to running on paid subscriptions (since its audience would be its investors). Which is an option, I guess, but a whole other can of worms.


#9

Not strictly non-profit, but App.net says hi (and goodbye). I guess there’s also Ello, but after the flash-in-the-pan debut they had following one of Facebook’s Real Name Policy flaps, they basically disappeared from public consciousness again.


#10

Not a bad idea, really.

“The line is 12 hours long. Do I really want to send this hateful missive?”


#11

Can’t wait to see those co-op meetings live tweeted.


#12

visit any housing co-op or food/grocery co-op to understand what a bloody, horrific disaster a twitter co-op would IMMEDIATELY turn into. the actual behavior of a co-op defies it;s sunny-day, sharing label. they are breeding grounds for power-hungry miniature autocrats who, through cronyism, seize control of the governing boards and need to be toppled dramatically from power.


#13

REI seems nice.


#14

you can’t run a business as a co-op if it doesn’t make money.

In the long run, you can’t run a business as a business either if it doesn’t make money.


#15

and Vanguard and Kaiser Permanente


#16

I think that Google’s old Twitter “competitor”, Orkut, is open source.

Edit
Interesting - the engineer who developed Orkut at Google, just launched a new network…


#17

Because you want twitter to be run as badly as your local post office? Mine doesn’t deliver (randomly) about one day in ten, routinely loses packages, and is generally just a sad joke (which employees confirm when you ask them what the hell is going on). They can’t even hold my mail, randomly delivering it on one or two days every time I’m gone for a week or more.


#18

It has been tried. They all failed to be successful or gain more than a handful of users.


#19

Those are co-ops? They run my 401(k) and health care as of six months ago, I had no idea.


#20

You wrote “First among these is that Twitter is in a fiercely competitive market for engineering talent, and that nonprofits – who can’t offer the kinds of stock-option-based incentives as their for-profit competitors – have a hard time attracting tech people to work for them.”

This is wrong for a couple reasons. First, Co-ops aren’t non-profits. Most, like REI, make a fair profit and return surplus profits to the members. This brings us to your claim about not attracting top talent. If profits are returned to members in proportion to their contributions (co-op principle #3) then hell yeah! All that money that the VCs are sneering at could pay for quite a few devs.

To the commenter re: mismanaged co-ops and dominance by primadonnas, that is not a necessary outcome, co-op or otherwise. How many corporate (for profit) leaders are total dicks and can only be replaced by board action… I’d say co-ops win by this metric every time.