#BuyTwitter Fails—For Now

Proposal for Twitter to explore co-op model fails, but supporters hold out hope

Could Twitter become a cooperative? The answer will take more than 140 characters. (Photo By: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Could Twitter become a cooperative? The answer will take more than 140 characters. (Photo By: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Supporters of turning Twitter into a user-owned cooperative are optimistic they can sustain interest in the proposal, despite its defeat at a recent shareholder meeting.

In the meeting at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, only about 4 percent of investors voted in favor of #BuyTwitter, which would have directed the social media network to conduct a feasibility study.

The final tally, however, beat supporters’ goal of 3 percent, “which enables us to resubmit the proposal next year,” said co-op advocate and journalist Nathan Schneider in a May 23 webinar sponsored by the Cooperative Management Education program at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Schneider’s opinion piece appeared last fall in The Guardian, a British newspaper, after rumors surfaced about Twitter going up for sale. Users and shareholders latched on to the idea and began the online #BuyTwitter petition to build grassroots momentum for “broad-based ownership and accountability similar to a co-op.”

In the May 23 webinar, Schneider said he was grateful for shareholders, users and “legacy cooperatives” for “lining up behind this crazy idea. This will be ongoing and one piece of a broader effort” to create platform co-ops, digital organizations owned and managed by an online membership community.

One of those “legacy co-ops” supporting the idea of Twitter as co-op is National Cooperative Business Association/Cooperative League of the USA.

“They chose to look at the co-op model as a solution to their challenges; that in itself is significant,” said John Torres, the groups’ vice president of communication and public relations.

“As a co-op, Twitter could re-examine its wealth of data to spur innovation and better serve its users. The bottom line is cooperatives are a proven way of doing business that provide real value to the economy.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey often has referred to Twitter as the “people’s news network,” and #BuyTwitter advocates appear likely to press on.

“Whatever happens, we’ll continue learning and advocating for democratic ownership of the platforms we use,” according to the #BuyTwitter website.

Victoria A. Rocha is a staff writer for NRECA.