How Elon Musk could change Twitter

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla wants the world to know that change is coming to Twitter.

In April, Twitter said so made a deal with Musk, which will buy Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, valuing the influential social media site at around $44 billion. The announcement came after Musk rejected a seat on Twitter’s board. With a 9.2% of capital on Twitter, Musk is one of the company’s largest shareholders and would become temporary CEO once the deal was done, CNBC reported this month, citing unnamed sources.


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Elon Musk buys Twitter. Here’s what could change


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Questions remain over whether Musk will walk away from the deal. The billionaire said the deal was temporarily “on hold” as he wants more details on the number of spambots and fake accounts on the social network. He asked Twitter to provide proof that less than 5% of its users are actually fake or spam accounts. Twitter, on the other hand, says the deal is not on hold and it has no plans to lower the sale price. This week, Musk revealed in a new filing that he was personally committing $33.5 billion to the deal, a sign he could move forward. Twitter shareholders are expected to vote on the deal at a special meeting, although the company has yet to announce a date for that.

The deal with Musk has also fueled speculation about what it could mean for the future of the social media site. The sale initially seemed unlikely, but Twitter’s board then reportedly began taking the offer more seriously after Musk revealed more details about how he would fund the potential purchase.

“Free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where issues vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating spambots and authenticating all humans. Twitter has huge potential – I can’t wait to work with the company and the user community to unlock it.”

Like other Twitter users, Musk hasn’t been shy about sharing his thoughts on what needs fixing on the site, tweeting his candid remarks to his 95 million followers. (Musk has more social media clout, as measured by followers, than Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey combined.) These tweets provide insight into his love-hate relationship with Twitter. .

Dorsey, a well-known figure in the tech industry, expressed his admiration for the way Musk uses Twitter, noting that the mogul shares “his thoughts openly” on the site. But Musk’s candor also got him in hot water. In 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Musk for allegedly violating securities law after he tweeted that he had “secured funding” to take Tesla private. The SEC and Musk reached a settlement which required some of his tweets to be pre-approved, although his lawyers are trying to terminate this agreement.

Here are four changes Musk could request from Twitter:

Change content moderation

What is and isn’t allowed on Twitter is a topic Musk tweeted about before disclosing his stake in the company. In late March, for example, Musk tweeted out a poll asking if users thought Twitter protected free speech. He said the poll results would be “very important”.

Musk tweeted, “Free speech is essential to the functioning of a democracy. Do you believe Twitter strictly adheres to this principle?” About 70% of the 2 million respondents answered no.

The First Amendment does not apply to private companies, such as Twitter, which can create their own rules about what is allowed. In 2020, Agrawal, then Twitter’s CTO, told the MIT Technology Review that the company’s role was “not to be bound by the First Amendment” but to “serve a healthy public conversation.”

In a follow-up tweet, Musk said, “Given that Twitter serves as a de facto public square, failure to uphold the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?” He also asked if a new platform was needed.

Musk isn’t the first person to wonder if Twitter is censoring certain voices. Conservatives criticized the company for banning former US President Donald Trump after death Riots of January 6 at the Capitolyet Dorsey defended the call, made because of the risk of incitement to violence. Musk said he plans to reverse Trump ban from Twitter even though the former US president has said he has no plans to return.

Musk also tweeted that “a social media platform’s policies are good if the most extreme 10% on the left and right are equally unhappy.” He did not respond to questions about how Twitter would measure this.

How much influence Musk can have on content moderation is an open question. Twitter says its policy decisions are not determined by the board or shareholders, and it has no intention of reversing existing policies.

For what it’s worth, Musk’s tweets weren’t without controversy. Musk has been accused of breaking Twitter’s rules against harmful coronavirus misinformation in 2020 when he falsely tweeted that “children are essentially immune” to COVID-19. In reality, children can catch the virus. Twitter told Axios that the tweet did not break its rules because it was not “final”.

Fighting cryptocurrency scams

Cryptocurrency scams have been a thorn in Twitter’s side, and it’s an issue that has affected Musk personally.

The scammers have usurped musk using fake accounts on various social media sites in an attempt to trick people into donating cryptocurrency. In 2020, MuskThe account was also among the high-profile Twitter accounts that were hacked to push a bitcoin scam.

In January, Musk complained that Twitter was spending time on products like profile pictures that feature non-fungible tokens, verified assets on a blockchain, rather than fighting crypto spam bots.

“Twitter is spending engineering resources on this bs while crypto scammers throw a spambot block party in every thread!?” he tweeted.

He also tweeted that bots are the “most annoying issue” on Twitter. On April 21, Musk tweeted if a Twitter auction succeeds “we’ll beat the spambots or die trying!” and “authenticate all real humans”.

Release an edit button

Twitter users have long requested a way to edit their tweets for typos and other issues, but the much-requested feature hasn’t been at the top of the company’s priorities. Twitter has included a way to un-tweet as part of its Blue Twitter $3 per month subscription plan.

On April 4, Musk again brought up the idea of ​​an edit button, tweeting another poll. “Do you want an edit button,” he tweeted, misspelling the words yes and no. More than 4 million votes were cast, with almost three-quarters supporting the idea.

Musk didn’t comment on whether or not an edit button is needed. On April 5, Twitter tweeted that it had been working on an editing feature since last year – “no we didn’t come up with the idea of ​​a poll”, Twitter’s communications team tweeted with a winking face emoji. The company said it will start testing the tool to find out what works and what is possible.

Twitter has previously expressed concerns that an editing tool could lead to issues such as people sharing tweets that are then edited to change their meaning. In 2020, Dorsey even told Wired that Twitter would probably never add an edit button.

“We started as an SMS messaging service, so as you all know when you send an SMS you can’t really take it back,” Dorsey said in the interview. “We wanted to preserve that vibe and that feeling in the early days.”

It looks like Twitter is putting the feature higher on its priority list. On April 4, Agrawal used colloquial language to respond to Musk’s edit button survey.

“The consequences of this poll will be significant. Please vote carefully,” Agrawal tweeted.

Open Twitter Algorithm

Social media users have complained that algorithms are controlling their lives, prompting them to spend more time on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Some Twitter users prefer to see tweets in chronological order. In March, Twitter rolled back a change that would show the default algorithmic feed after user complaints.

Musk suggested that Twitter could make the algorithm open-source. Musk didn’t specify what that would entail, but open-source software is freely available and can be modified. He posed the idea in a March 24 poll. About 83% of the 1 million respondents said yes.

Dorsey appeared to approve of the results, tweeting, “The choice of which algorithm to use (or not) should be open to everyone.”

Speaking at a TED talk in April, Musk said he believes Twitter users should be able to see if a tweet has been downgraded or promoted on the site so there’s no “behind-the-scenes manipulation.” . Twitter’s code should be on Github, he said, so people can check for errors and suggest changes.

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