It’s amazing disrespect: journalists who email Twitter’s press contact will now automatically receive a reply. Sole content – ​​a poop emoji.

It leaves many media professionals shaking their heads at a loss: if you send an email to Twitter’s press contact, you’ll get an immediate response. Namely, an email whose only content is a turd emoji. Disrespectful? In any case. Typical of the new Twitter boss Elon Musk, who has been attracting attention for months with rather infantile statements in his $ 44 billion social network? Clear. Is that to be expected after the statements he has recently made more frequently about what he calls legacy media (e.g. “traditional media”)? Unfortunately yes.

It’s quite clear what Elon Musk wants to express with such a drastic action as the automated sending of turds: The media are not only not important to him, they are actually a thorn in his side. Because they dare to question and even criticize him and his business practices. Because they compete with what he wants to be or become with Twitter: direct live news, without what he sees as the annoying detour via journalists.

Elon Musk despises the free press

And, on occasion, Twitter has been such a thing in the past. In the case of major, current events, eyewitnesses, those affected and experts spoke up on the platform and shared their information and views. This is valuable, especially for people in countries where there is no such thing as freedom of the press and independent media. But such fragmentary and always subjective reporting can never replace real journalism – for many reasons.

First: A personal impression can always be deceptive. A shaky cell phone video never tells the whole story. Misinformation can spread so quickly. That’s what journalists are there for: questioning things, doing extensive research, checking facts – and then, if necessary, waiting five minutes longer before reporting on current events, to make sure that facts are being spread instead of hectic assumptions.

Egocentric “determiner” versus journalism

Above all, the problem is that someone like Elon Musk is probably not concerned with the at least theoretically honorable goal of promoting free, direct “citizen journalism”. Because that can’t work on a platform owned by a single billionaire. Especially not when this billionaire is known for his moodiness, vanity and insecurity. Several bizarre (wrong) decisions in the past few weeks and months have made it clear that Twitter is about two things: making money and stroking his ego.

It is noticeable that almost every Twitter user – whether they follow Elon Musk or not – regularly finds his tweets in their timeline. That’s been the case since Musk was irritated to find that his following had plummeted after his idiosyncratic way of running the platform led to many users deleting their accounts. He also wants to use Twitter as a voice for himself, as a platform for promoting the Musk brand — and for his political views. And that is: extremely dangerous.

Twitter won’t keep the monopoly forever

Because someone who can control reporting and the dissemination of opinions on a global network without being checked is not only expressing his contempt for the precious good of freedom of the press, but is also endangering it. Musk’s silly auto-reply with the poop emoji symbolizes that contempt very impressively. However, he is likely to have made the bill without the users who actually value independence and freedom of expression.

With the Mastodon platform, which works in a similar way to Twitter but is organized decentrally and can therefore not be managed by just one “boss”, there is already an alternative – but it still lags behind in terms of user-friendliness. However, it is only a matter of time before there will be a corresponding network that will combine the convenience of Twitter with independence from a single, egocentric autocrat.