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I have been watching Elon Musk cause havoc online – and in the world in general – but especially online. As a fellow South African born human, I am feeling strangely responsible for one of our own out there on the loose, and I keep thinking that someone needs to go and fetch him. Then I think of him in the way I think of all tech bros, and realise that there is nothing particularly special about him. 

He is a sad rich boy walking around with all the money in the world, attracting more sad rich boys and governments to him, and playing at power. Yes, undeniably, they wield great power not only because of the technologies they build, buy out and mess with, but also because of their position in the world – white, cisgender, heterosexual, rich boys in their own special club terrified of difference and inclusivity and a world where people could and should be equal. They instigate and prey off fear and commodify it for their own gain. They make monsters out of poor vulnerable queer and marginalised people who use social media platforms like Twitter to connect with others, to mobilise for change, and to have some damn fun on the internet. Those of us on the margins thriving seems to be their worst nightmare, and our peace and our lives seem to be a game to these bullies. 

When I read that Elon Musk was going to buy out Twitter, I was worried and scared for what that would mean for vulnerable and marginalised people, for activists online, and for our ability to share information and keep organising through the platform. I started researching alternative social media platforms, joined one and found nobody else there on the LGBTIAQ+ server, threw my hands up and went back to Twitter. 

Then he dismissed the Human Rights and Ethics teams, and I got more worried. My activity on Twitter stalled, I overthought every tweet, and then in talking to wonderful humans who are participating in my study on transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people’s experiences of online gender-based violence, I realised that Twitter has always been a hot mess. Not only content-wise, but in terms of its protections. Has Twitter ever worked for transgender, non-binary and gender diverse folks? 

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