Deleting Twitter under Musk’s ownership is the new moving to Canada

Elon Musk in Twitter dad joke mode at a recent event in Europe.
Elon Musk in Twitter dad joke mode at a recent event in Europe.
Image: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
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Following weekend chatter that Elon Musk was in talks with Twitter to move his acquisition bid forward, the company confirmed the deal this afternoon. Prior to the announcement, the possibility of a Musk-owned Twitter had led to a number of reactions, some negative, citing his politics and treatment of workers, and some positive, pointing to his success with Tesla and SpaceX

But one consistent theme from users on the platform has been the notion that some might quit Twitter if Musk took over, evoking the oft-used promise-threat of moving to another country (usually, Canada for US citizens) if a particular candidate wins a presidential election. It happens every four years, but would-be expatriates usually don’t follow through on their threats. 

Now, the same kind of public hand-wringing seems to be in play in the face of Musk’s $44 billion move. Given the lack of large-scale alternatives to Twitter, vows to depart the platform are likely just as superficial, for now. 

What users can do with their data now that Elon Musk owns Twitter: Not much  

In addition to promising to leave when Musk takes the Twitter reins, some users are also asking, often with a hint of humor, “How can I delete my DMs [private direct messages] before this takeover happens?” 

The problem is, even if a user deletes their DM, the recipient will still have a copy. So unless a user plans on coordinating with all the Twitter users they’ve ever direct messaged, deleting DM is a pointless exercise. And even if users coordinate DM deletions, Twitter apparently still keeps those messages for years. 

Moving on from Twitter is easier than moving to another country, and harder

In the hours leading up to the deal, there was speculation that another bidder might enter the fray, or that the Twitter board to outright deny Musk and set off a legal chain of events. But it turns out that Twitter’s leading meme troll has gotten his acquisition wish.

Despite this, most users probably won’t be moving to another social media destination anytime soon, pledges to adopt a liking for poutine notwithstanding.