The past few years have been brutal, to say the least. And 2023 did not bring any good news. Amid the humanitarian crisis of the Palestine-Israeli conflict, growing concerns about the credibility and reliability of AI, and Elon Musk’s ongoing breakdown, the biggest tech players also faced significant losses. This year saw the demise of the E3 gaming convention, the deterioration of popular online forums, and the decline of cryptocurrencies, Silicon Valley banks, and financial institutions. Additionally, the poor residents living near the Twitter office in San Francisco had to tolerate obnoxious lights flashing from the building, potentially triggering epilepsy. While we can happily say “goodbye” to many of these things, it is with great regret that we bid farewell and offer condolences to some of this year’s worst developments.
The X, Twitter, and Elon Musk fiasco:
No “Losers in 2023” list is complete without mentioning the chaos surrounding Elon Musk’s Twitter (or X). Last year, shortly after Musk acquired Twitter, some of us were asked to predict how Musk’s new venture would fare. I felt that it was a high-risk, high-reward move that might work due to Musk’s combination of luck and intelligence, based mainly on his previous success with Tesla and SpaceX. However, I also said that Twitter might devolve into the most chaotic social media platform around, which is pretty much what happened. In hindsight, I failed to account for the fact that, unlike Tesla and SpaceX, Musk seems to disregard the operation of X as a business, treating the company more as an expensive toy to draw attention to the perceived faults of social media. Combined with his increasingly unhinged personality and shortsighted decisions, this has resulted in a disordered organization. While not all of these events occurred in 2023, here are a few of the foolish things that Musk and X have done in the last 18 months.
A little over a year ago, Musk disrupted Twitter’s verification system, leading to fake accounts posting inappropriate content. Then, earlier this year in June, Musk blocked non-logged-in users from seeing tweets, causing Google and others to remove Twitter content from search results. Later that month, Musk changed Twitter’s name to X, a move so absurd that most people pretend the rebranding never happened. Adding to this, was the installation of a sign commemorating the rename that caused a disturbance in the neighborhood due to excessive lighting. More recently, citing a rise in hate speech, major companies pulled ads from X, prompting Musk to react aggressively. It is hard to predict how much worse X can get, but given the events of 2023, it is evident that the company formerly known as Twitter has not hit rock bottom yet. — Sam Rutherford, Senior reporter, David Imel for Engadget.