This year, news coverage of the technology sector was dominated by agents of chaos. Lawsuits, layoffs, and financial losses were near-permanent fixtures in headlines when it came to the big multinationals and Silicon Valley behemoths, even among those that seemed to be faring comparatively well.
However, while it’s easy to succumb to the doom and gloom – and many of these changes are rightfully being interrogated – plenty of creatives asked how the rapidly evolving tech space can work for us, not against us.
Social media platforms really did become the playthings of the controversial elite this year. Former president Donald Trump launched his own social network, Truth Social, in February, while Ye (formerly Kanye West) tried to buy “free speech platform” Parler in a deal that eventually sank.
But it was Elon Musk’s drama-addled $44 billion takeover of Twitter that stole headlines this year. A summary for anyone fed up of hearing about it: frenzied business decisions, spiralling legal concerns, appalling people management. Screenshots of emails telling staff to choose between an “extremely hardcore” working life and unemployment. Photos of beds installed at Twitter HQ, an early example of what “extremely hardcore” looks like in practice. Live-tweeting users about business strategy in some kind of warped interpretation of Agile.
Twitter is both a social media company and a crime scene
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 10, 2022
Unsurprisingly, Musk’s vision for the platform hasn’t gone down particularly well with brands and ad agencies, which is a bit of a problem considering advertising is Twitter’s primary source of revenue. In November, General Motors, Audi, Mondelez, and many more pulled their ad spend, while some of the world’s largest agency networks advised their clients to pause or at least reconsider spending. For most brands, the retreat from Twitter was put down to a combination of security concerns and issues with content moderation – namely, that one person’s idea of ‘free speech’, which Musk is peddling, could quickly equate to hate speech. Perhaps it was a case of letting the dust settle though, as he recently indicated that many of those advertisers have since returned.