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Leaving Twitter and The Monetary Value of Consciousness

December 11th, 2022

Whelp! This is it. I've had an enjoyable time as an active user on Twitter for the past six years. I first joined in 2016 to interact with the community surrounding High Quality Video Game Rips & YTPMV, and it would later serve as my primary artistic platform when I began to create artwork in 2019. However, I think it's time to face this curtain with a bow.

The inspiration I've gained from Twitter has been immense, literally life changing immense. I met my best friend through Twitter, who encouraged me to begin my artistic journey. The artists which I have drawn from to construct my stylistic taste have, for the most part, entirely come from those on Twitter. Ideas for aspects of stories, recommendations for novels and short stories that have heavily influenced how I write, and a whole host of other inspiration came from Twitter. Why then, with Twitter flourishing in active users more now than ever, would I leave? Simply put, the value of my time, who is receiving said time, and rights issues regarding my work make my usage of Twitter untenable. 

My time, or perhaps to be said my consciousness, can be put towards any number of things. Creating artwork, writing a blog post, scrolling forums, reading articles, watching videos, playing games, you get the point. The value this holds is exactly what makes social media platforms valuable. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube have driven this to the extreme, putting a large emphasis on the mystical "algorithm" which delivers the user an endless stream of content. The longer a social media platform can keep a user's attention, the more they can advertise, and the more money they make. For me on Twitter, I know that the site's algorithm is seeking to keep me there by serving an endless stream of conflict and fear. Opening Twitter, as opposed to seeing the artwork and posts from friends which I use the site for, instead I see fearful discourse regarding artificial intelligence, right-wing and left-wing conspiracies, threats towards LGBTQ individuals, antisemitism, Twitter's tenability as a website, and onwards. This kind of fear is perpetuating itself among the site's users, creating reactionary and further exclusive groups among the site's members. Of course, this is good for Twitter's monetary value. The more conflict the site holds, the more time the site demands of its users to keep their ideological stake in the conversation. This is not healthy for its users, and neither does it help heal the wounds which have permeated our social fabric. Although, I will admit, this has been a part of Twitter's fabric since the day I joined. What has really accelerated its significance is the new owner of Twitter, and his policies.

On October 27th, 2022, Elon Musk would complete his acquisition of Twitter. Although Musk has founded successful businesses I appreciate, primarily SpaceX (tell me this is not the coolest thing ever), those he heavily involves himself intends to see a quick decline. Twitter appears to be one of those endeavors, perhaps greater than all others. In recent years, Musk has presented himself at something of a right-wing leader. He would associate himself with many celebrities in that circle, most notoriously antisemite Kanye West and President Donald Trump. In his acquisition, Musk would bring himself into the company championing democratic ideals such as free speech and transparency, but has clearly perverted these ideas through his political lens. Although I see no need to elaborate on these here, you can read about his actions during the hostile takeover of Twitter, in free speech, and in transparency as they develop. This morning, as I write this, Musk would tweet his support of an investigation and prosecution of Dr. Anthony Fauci, current and past Chief Medical Advisor to the President. This viewpoint is popular among extremist right-wing supporters, and has been spread by the Q-Anon political movement. A website that is owned by a Q-Anon supporter is not one that I wish to give my time to, regardless of all else. 

Musk has been a proponent of artificial intelligence for most of his career. His companies Tesla and SpaceX include heavy usage of AI in autonomous piloting (one company slightly more successful than the other), his Neuralink endeavors seek to supplant human consciousness with that of a machine, and perhaps most importantly for us, is a founding member of OpenAI. Although Musk has left the board of OpenAI, it is undeniable that he may once again employ the usage of AI on Twitter. If you are unfamiliar with OpenAI, they are the developers of the GPT models including ChatGPT, the DALL-E image generator, the MuseNet MIDI generator, among others. They were the first popular incarnation of the AI Artwork trend with their DALL-E models, and other more advanced models such as Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and OpenAI's own DALL-E 2 have followed. These models, although an incredible technology, are a threat to artists' intellectual property. The images used to train these models are acquired from across the internet, many of which fall under the domain of copyright to certain corporations or individuals. Although this is a conversation for another time, I believe that these models will be forced by law to train solely on works either in the public domain, licensed to them in libraries, or freely available under Creative Commons or other such license. Although I do support the creation of derivative works such as AI art trained on these libraries, I do not support my own work being used in a for-profit image generation service. All three previously mentioned image generation models, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and DALL-E 2, all fall under this criteria. As my work is published primarily with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license (including this post), my work would not be able to be used by an image generation model unless it is entirely free and credits me in each image used by a dataset containing it. It is possible, and in my opinion likely, that Musk will use the vast petabytes of images and videos on Twitter to train a potential image generator. All Musk would have to do is push out a slight adjustment to Twitter's content and privacy policies. Other platforms, most notably TikTok, have already done this to an extent, allowing the platform to use their user's content in advertisements without payment.

This is all to say that, for the stated reasons, I will be no longer be using Twitter. Now, this does not mean I will be deleting my account. I will continue to post links to what I am creating, when they are ready. However, I will no longer be using Twitter to directly post content, engage with users, browse the timeline, or anything beyond posting a simple link. In addition, I will be removing all of my original artwork from Twitter in advance, in case a hypothetical AI-friendly content policy is passed. But do not fret, for I am on many social media! You can find me on Newgrounds, Mastodon, Tumblr, and other sites right from my homepage. In addition, you can also view all of my non-NDA'd and non-confidential artwork in my Artchive, also available on my homepage. And, as always, you can find me right here on Yamasztuka. I'll see you there!