5 ways Elon Musk could change Twitter

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Elon Musk adds Twitter to a gigantic portfolio of businesses that also includes Tesla and SpaceX.


what you need to know

  • Elon Musk adds Twitter to a gigantic portfolio of businesses that also includes Tesla and SpaceX
  • So what does a Musk acquisition mean for the future of Twitter?
  • One of Musk’s biggest criticisms of Twitter is its content moderation policy, which he says is too strict
  • Musk also plans to convert Twitter from a public company to a private company and bring transparency by converting it to an open-source model

Twitter announced Monday that it had reached an agreement for Musk — according to Forbes, the richest man in the world. to acquire the company for approximately $44 billion.

“Freedom of expression is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital marketplace where matters important to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement announcing the deal. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features, open-sourcing algorithms to increase trust, defeat spam bots, and authenticate everyone. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

So what does a Musk acquisition mean for the future of Twitter?

Here are some ways the platform could change:

Less censorship

One of Musk’s biggest criticisms of Twitter is its content moderation policy, which he says is too strict.

In a regulatory statement announcing his bid to buy Twitter, Musk wrote, “I invested in Twitter because I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the world, and I believe that freedom of expression is a social imperative for a functioning democracy.”

He added that he doesn’t trust Twitter’s leadership to take the chances he feels are necessary to ensure freedom of expression on the platform.

He’s not the only one complaining about Twitter’s policies. Republicans have long complained that social media companies, notably Twitter and Facebook, censor conservative viewpoints.

Musk tweeted that he believes a social media platform’s politics “is good when the top 10 percent left and right are equally unhappy.”

However, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology did found that while Twitter suspended Republicans at a rate four times higher than DemocratsRepublican Twitter users also shared much more verifiable false misinformation and conspiracy theories.

“Crucially, we found that users’ sharing of misinformation is as indicative of suspension as their political affiliations,” the researchers wrote. Therefore, the observation that Republicans were more likely to be suspended than Democrats provides no support for the claim that Twitter has shown political bias in its suspension practices. Instead, the observed asymmetry could be fully explained by Republicans’ tendency to share more misinformation.”

Musk’s views on free speech have many wondering if he will allow former President Donald Trump to return to Twitter. Trump was booted from the platform two days after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Citing “the risk of further incitement to violence,” the company said the then-president’s tweets after the riot were interpreted by some of his supporters as calls “to repeat the acts of violence that took place on January 6, 2021.”

In an industry plagued by misinformation, hate speech, harassment, and electoral intelligence, Musk’s quest for a free-speech social media platform could be fraught with more pitfalls than he realizes.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he “did not fully predict or understand the negative consequences of the platform in the real world” before Twitter was forced to tighten its moderation practices. In 2019, Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook as a free speech advocate, but Facebook too has since cracked down on misinformation about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election, including suspending Trump.

Even Trump’s own new Twitter-like platform, Truth Social – which claims to “encourage open, free and honest global conversations without discriminating against political ideology” – bans false or misleading posts. It has also been criticized for censoring users, including Trump ally Roger Stone and web developers whose username made fun of the platform’s CEOformer US Rep. Devin Nunes.

Trump card said Fox News on Monday that he will not rejoin Twitter and instead will start using Truth Social in the coming days.

“I’m not going on Twitter, I’m going to stick with the TRUTH,” Trump told the outlet, adding, “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’s going to make improvements on it and he’s a good man, but I’m going to stick with it.” with the TRUTH.”

A private company

As part of the agreement, Musk will transition Twitter from a public company to a private company.

He said in a letter to Twitter that the company’s privatization was necessary “to make the changes that need to be made.” He has also complained that following Dorsey’s departure, Twitter’s board members own few shares among them and therefore “simply disagree with shareholders”.

However, Musk said he wants to retain as many shareholders as legally possible in a privatized Twitter.

Open Source Algorithm

Musk said at a TED conference earlier this month that he wants to transition Twitter to an open-source model. That, he said, would bring transparency into the company and allow users to examine its code and see why certain posts are prioritized in users’ feeds.

Musk said that Twitter posts are currently being “mysteriously promoted or downgraded without knowing what’s going on.”

“If a black box algorithm encourages some things and not others, I think that can be quite dangerous,” he said.

Such a move would also help Twitter defend itself against allegations of political bias.

Crackdown on bots and scams

Musk also recently hinted that he would try to root out bots and crypto “scams” ​​on Twitter.

“If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” he tweeted last week.

In January, Musk complained that Twitter was developing profile pictures showing non-fungible tokens “while crypto scammers are having a spambot block party in every thread!?”

When a Twitter user responded to one of Musk’s tweets, which showed a chart of the platform’s year-to-year growth, Musk replied, “Now subtract crypto scam accounts that Twitter consistently displays as ‘real’ people in every feed.”

An edit button

Earlier this month, Musk asked his followers if Twitter should add an edit button, jokingly listing the options as “yse” and “on.” 74 percent supported the idea.

However, Musk alone would not be able to appreciate such a move.

Twitter said April 1 it was working on an edit button that many users thought was an April Fool’s joke. Following Musk’s poll, the company confirmed that it will begin testing the button in the coming months, adding, “No, we didn’t come up with the idea of ​​a poll.”

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