HomeFinanceElon Musk says Twitter's perfect market is not the U.S.—it is Japan...

Elon Musk says Twitter’s perfect market is not the U.S.—it is Japan | NEWSRUX

Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk desires the social media platform to look abroad for inspiration.

Musk advised an all-hands assembly on Monday that Twitter ought to use its presence in Japan as a mannequin it charts its future, saying the nation is an instance of what Twitter ought to aspire to be “ideally in each nation with out exception,” in response to The Verge

“It could appear as if Twitter is U.S.-centric, but when something it’s Japan-centric,” Musk reportedly mentioned, including that “there are roughly the identical variety of each day lively customers in Japan as there are within the U.S., even though Japan has one-third of the inhabitants of the U.S.” Twitter didn’t reply to Fortune’s request for remark. 

Twitter is Japan’s third-most standard social media service, in response to knowledge compiled by Comnico, a Japanese social advertising and marketing company. Twitter has 45 million month-to-month lively customers, behind messaging app Line (92 million lively customers) and YouTube (69 million month-to-month lively customers). That places Twitter forward of Fb, which has 26 million month-to-month lively customers within the nation.

Twitter’s attain in Japan ranks the nation as Twitter’s second greatest market, behind the U.S. Japan’s greatest manufacturers use the service to have interaction with their followers, and influencers tweet out updates to their schedules and promote their content material.

Whereas different providers might need extra whole customers within the nation, Twitter has “an outsized affect on Japan’s tradition, like within the U.S.” says Jay Allen, writer of Unseen Japan, a publication that displays Japanese information and social points. “Cute viral tweets are a mainstay of morning information applications.”

Twitter has additionally formed Japanese society, Allen says. “There’s this impression that Japan doesn’t like speaking about politics”, he says, “however in the event you can learn Japanese Twitter, you’ll notice that’s not really the case. A variety of conversations ended up occurring on Twitter and have actually moved the needle when it comes to social progress, on points like girls within the office and sexual harassment.”

Musk appears to need Twitter to copy its prime place in Japan in different markets just like the U.S., however consultants warn that adjustments Musk has applied since shopping for Twitter may danger the service’s standing within the nation.

Why is Twitter so huge in Japan?

Jason Karlin, a media research professor on the College of Tokyo, says Japan’s use of Twitter began to extend in 2011 after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and throughout the subsequent disaster on the Fukushima energy plant. “Folks had been utilizing Twitter as a technique to get immediate details about the assorted crises, notably as a result of the disaster was so protracted and the restoration efforts took such an extended time frame,” he says. Japanese customers proceed to flock to Twitter for normal earthquake updates.  

The Japanese writing system, which makes use of characters quite than letters, can be higher suited to Twitter’s microblogging service. The characters permit Japanese web customers to cram extra content material right into a single tweet. “We regularly battle to maintain our [English] translations of Japanese tweets to 280 characters!” Allen says. 

Japanese customers are additionally drawn to Twitter’s acceptance of anonymity, which Karlin notes has lengthy been part of Japanese web tradition. The nation’s communications ministry in 2015 reported that 76.5% of Japanese Twitter accounts had been held below pseudonyms, in comparison with 15% of native Fb accounts. (An 2017 evaluation of a random pattern of 100,000 Twitter accounts discovered that 26% of customers didn’t use their full title, although the researchers admitted this was probably an undercount.)

“Social ostracism might be fairly harsh in Japan,” Allen says. “An unpopular opinion or one thing that goes viral may have fairly nasty penalties in day-to-day life.” A “a really sturdy proper wing presence on social media” can have interaction in intimidation, Karlin says, which can encourage customers to be pseudonymous.

Is Twitter’s chaos hurting Japan?

Different features of Twitter’s presence in Japan could also be much less interesting to the platform’s new CEO who prizes free speech. “Extolling Japan as some sort of perfect location for envisioning social media appears sort of misplaced,” Karlin says, noting that Japan faces related issues with political speech and content material as different nations. He additionally notes that Japan has more durable guidelines on political speech, equivalent to limits on when politicians can marketing campaign and the kind of campaigning they will have interaction in.

And Musk’s early choices as CEO, equivalent to mass layoffs and tweaks to a few of Twitter’s underlying techniques, may jeopardize the platform’s presence in Japan. The nation submits extra requests for Twitter to take down content material than every other nation, in response to the corporate’s personal transparency report.

Karlin says such requests are probably dealt with by a neighborhood, Japanese-speaking workers. “If these individuals are being reduce, there’s a hazard that content material moderation on Twitter goes to dry up,” he says, “and that’s going to be very disturbing for the Japanese authorities.” (Japanese media reported that a few of Twitter’s Japan-based staff had been laid off, however the extent of the job cuts is unclear.)

Some Japanese customers have thought of transferring to different Twitter-like platforms like Mixi, a locally-developed social community standard within the early 2010s that light amid Twitter’s rise. Nonetheless, Allen says that he isn’t seeing “an precise main motion” to alternate options like Mastodon. Allen says that Japanese Twitter customers are extra involved about Twitter’s potential to maintain its feed working than about security and content material moderation, which dominate the Musk-era debate round Twitter within the U.S.

Musk himself stays a preferred determine in Japan, with some Japanese Twitter users celebrating his push to finish distant work at Twitter, repeating Musk’s perception that working at house is equal to not working in any respect.

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