Of all the decisions Elon Musk has made since buying Twitter, this may turn out to be the most universally reviled.
On Monday the billionaire announced Twitter was going to be, for the first time, deleting old accounts simply because they were no longer active. He wrote:
“We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop.”
We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 8, 2023
What’s the deal? Why do this? Well, ever since he (reportedly) overpaid by quite some margin for the social media platform, Elon has been trying to trim the fat wherever he can. And, in many of these cases, tech experts have pointed out he’s actually chopping off some vital organs… For instance, on Day One he started firing programmers left and right, many of whom it turned out he needed to hire back to keep the site running.
In this case, what’s the harm? Well… there are two big reasons accounts are inactive. There are users who quit Twitter… and there are those who died. There are a few fun inactive accounts that still hold significance for people. Like that one account that only ever tweeted that one Rocky Horror joke. We mean, where would we be if YouTube decided to free up space and deleted the channel that posted “David After Dentist” or “Skateboarding Dog”?
But the real tragedy users were quick to point out? It would erase the accounts of lost loved ones.
Plenty of users responded right away to tell the Twitter boss he was making a mistake — imploring him to keep their late loved ones’ accounts. On Facebook, accounts are frozen in time, so you can always go back and visit your deceased friends and family members’ personally cultivated pages. It would be a shame to lose that just for space — and importantly just for money.
You likely don’t even remember this — we sure didn’t — but Twitter talked about doing this years before Elon, back in 2019. The outcry was so strong, the move so unpopular, that the company scrapped it. Elon, we’re guessing, isn’t going to be moved by all this sentiment.
When one follower — one of Elon’s fans apparently, as he even had a blue checkmark — pointed out the historical significance of old tweets, the billionaire replied:
“The accounts will be archived… But it is important to free up abandoned handles”
Free up abandoned handles? So wait… is this yet another decision that’s going to make it harder to tell which tweets come from where? We mean, removing the verification was bad enough, but now someone is going to be able to buy a well-known old handle like @Horse_ebooks and just go to town tweeting whatever they want?
The account that used to be your funny cousin who passed away from cancer might now become home to a white supremacist spewing pro-Trump messages and great replacement theory garbage?! Gross…
We can’t help but wonder if Elon plans to sell those old handles — and just wants to bring in more $8/month accounts. Heck, he could even be planning to auction off the more popular ones…. who knows at this point?
And then there’s those who are loved by millions. What about the inactive accounts of dead celebrities? Sure, some accounts, like James Caan‘s, get taken over by a friend or employee. But not all. Carrie Fisher‘s account is all her, as is Bob Saget‘s. Some actually end beautifully as the star knew they didn’t have much time. Willie Garson‘s final tweet is still sitting there on his page, greeting you like an old friend. He wrote:
“BE KIND TO EACH OTHER……ALWAYS. LOVE TO ALL. APRROACH KINDNESS.”
BE KIND TO EACH OTHER……ALWAYS. LOVE TO ALL. APRROACH KINDNESS.
— Willie Garson ???????? (@WillieGarson) September 5, 2021
Leonard Nimoy‘s final tweet, too:
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP [Live Long and Prosper]”
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
And that will be taken away from us? To save/make a few bucks?? Maybe he’ll avoid deleting celebs’ accounts. He certainly cares what they think — he made an exception for the blue check with certain stars, whether they wanted him to or not. But that won’t protect your grandmother’s account. Or your school friend’s.
What do YOU think, Perezcious readers?
[Image via MEGA/WENN/Carrie Fisher/Willie Garson/Bob Saget/Twitter.]