There is no way to disagree with one thing: Twitter (X) is today a laboratory for experimenting with new models for social media. In its current incarnation, X is working with characteristics of so-called “multilevel marketing”.
This type of marketing was created by merchant Carl Rehnborg to sell vitamins in 1939. The premise was that instead of selling products only directly (first level), the company created a network of indirect affiliates paid by commission whenever they sold the products (hence the multilevel name). It was so successful that it inspired companies like Amway, Avon and others.
Many of these companies are led by charismatic personalities, who create a set of narratives and values to mobilize affiliates as if they were a “family”. In several of them, to be part of the network you need to share its belief system.
OX today operates along similar lines. His big recent move was to create a model for sharing the company’s revenue with affiliates. You have to pay for this. In the same way that an affiliate buys the company’s products to earn commission on them, in the case of X it is necessary to subscribe to the platform at a cost of R$880 per year. Once you have signed up, you get a blue tick on your account and the company will share with you the economic success of your own posts (if it happens). It’s a peculiar model, in which people pay to produce for X, with uncertain remuneration for results.
Interestingly, one of Musk’s promises at the helm of Twitter was to be a counterpoint to the press model, which Musk doesn’t like, claiming it has an agenda and is centralized. However, his move was in exactly the same direction: making Twitter a centralized platform through an omnipotent editor (himself) who overrides all other users.
In this sense, X replicated the model he criticizes. He became a “publisher”. Its structure is made up of the centralized editor, which dictates the platform’s official narratives, beliefs and values. Around him there is a network of affiliates, most of them inspired by the editor’s charisma, who paid to have the chance to project themselves. Users produce content that tries to catch the editor’s attention, hoping to interact or have their posts highlighted by him — thus guaranteeing their success.
The highlight generally comes when affiliates replicate the publisher’s own ideas. Around everything there is a whole periphery of non-affiliates, who do not pay the subscription, and whose reach and relevance is progressively diminished by the platform.
This model is innovative and bizarre. During the Israel and Palestine conflict, several blue seal affiliate accounts published fake images of the war, many of them taken from video games. Two affiliate accounts were highlighted by Musk “to follow the war in real time.” Both contained false information or anti-Semitic content. He deleted his post after three hours. During this period, 11 million people accessed the publication, which was also replicated by countless other accounts.
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