Posted originally on the CTH on May 13, 2023 | Sundance
The authoritarian government of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, a man of notoriously manipulative and unstable disposition intent on recreating the Ottoman empire, demanded that in advance of their elections Twitter remove the voice of the opposition party. Elon Musk complied:
This decision is interesting because it shows that despite his questions about the need to defend democracy and free speech, Twitter owner Elon Musk is willing to support the removal of opposition political parties during elections.
Musk justifies this decision by saying the choice was between shutting down a political viewpoint or shutting down all of Turkish Twitter access. Musk chose to simply eliminate one set of voices in opposition to the existing government in Turkey.
When Rumble was faced with a similar threat from France, Rumble stood with the principle of freedom and refused to block content the administration of Emmanuel Macron did not like. Rumble left France rather than comply with authoritarian censorship demands. Twitter remains operational in Turkey, willing to support the authoritarian censorship demands. An interesting contrast.
I have fielded many calls in the past few days about this seemingly 180° reversal from Elon Musk in his ‘speech’ positions. The hiring of Linda Yaccarino was one massive datapoint that seemed to indicate the priorities of Musk had changed. The acquiescent to Turkish government requests less than 24 hours later is another datapoint.
The general questions all fall in the spectrum of ‘what has changed’?
I will answer here, what I have answered privately.
When I published my thesis on the background of Twitter called Jack’s Magic Coffee Shop, the essential outline contained two basic cornerstones.
First, the United States government was operating to control the information on the Twitter platform with direct access to the content. Second, the USG was subsidizing it.
Two years ago, people thought I was nuts about government control over content. However, in the last several months the information from within Twitter, specifically the Twitter Files outlining the DHS influence and control, has verified exactly the issue CTH noted in the very first outline of Jack’s Magic Coffee Shop.
However, it is the second aspect behind the platform that people have yet to recognize. When the fulsome story is told in hindsight, you will see that I am correct.
The second aspect is that Twitter cannot financially exist as a viable communication platform without government subsidy.
As it is currently structured, including the AWS cloud-based services for data processing, the costs associated with handling 30 million active simultaneous users (24/7) exceeds the business model for self-sufficiency. It simply costs too much without ownership of the metal.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), and other cloud-based services (Microsoft etc), are efficient for platforms who do not then need to employ as many engineers to keep the data processing operational; but they are very costly.
Data processing for 30 million simultaneously active users engaging with the platform is extremely expensive. Every engagement feature makes this issue worse. It is simply an issue of scale. Unfortunately, unlike traditional business models, the per user costs do not decrease as the number of simultaneous users increase.
There is no viable business model for a ‘free’ or low-cost user-based platform that requires data processing for this scale of simultaneous users without a massive amount of money to create the actual servers (metal-based operations). A cloud service (AWS) is expensive, and Musk is on the hook for every penny in data processing cost.
There have also been many reports that AWS is technically an endpoint U.S. government operation. Meaning the actual data processing is done by systems attached to U.S. government operations. While staying away from the granular tech on this issue, it remains most likely that government subsidy underpins the ability of Twitter to exist and function as a platform.
The motive behind the public-private partnership is symbiotic and long precedes Musk purchasing the platform.
The evolution of Twitter from a private to a quasi-public institution under the control of DHS took place over a decade. Essentially from 2012 (Arab Spring), and the first requests of the U.S. government for assistance, to the present day. As the public-private partnership relationship grew, Twitter was viewed as beneficial to the interests of the U.S. government as a controlled communication platform, and the financial subsidy to retain the viability of the platform was predictable as an outcome.
As with all things connected to the deep state IC, over time controlling content on the platform became increasingly obvious. The Twitter files reveal the scale of this issue as it was available to understand via internal communication correspondence. However, as admitted by the journalists requesting the searches of the Twitter database, they really don’t know the full scale and scope of the government involvement in Twitter. My personal suspicions of govt scale greatly exceed those journalistic reviews, driven in part by my experience as a target of the background actors.
Which brings me back to the question that everyone asks me about the motive for Musk’s ideological reversal. Surprise, it’s the money!
There is only one force more powerful than the firmly committed and espoused ideology of an altruistic mind, ECONOMICS.
The economics of the thing always supersedes and overpowers the other issues related to the thing. If the U.S. government wanted to shift the full scale of cost to operate Twitter onto the shoulders of Musk, the platform would not survive.
Tap Musk on the shoulder, or allow Musk to discover this financial dependency organically, and suddenly the reality of the thing changes. Nothing changes espoused opinion faster than money, just ask Steve Cortes.
It is a simple truth in everything: if you see a person change opinion quickly and radically, look at the money behind them.
There are two vectors for economics to change things. First, the gain of money as an enticement. Ex. you do this, you get paid. The second vector is more powerful, the removal of money as an enticement. Ex. you do this, or the existing payment stops.
If you look at the financial background of an abrupt change, almost every time you will find the answer to the motive that puzzles you.