Now, official, Elon Musk has made a deal to buy Twitter for about $44 billion, and here is what he wants to change on Twitter.
Elon Musk not only designs the social media platform as a privately owned company but this big buy can also signal huge changes for Twitter users.
After the news of his buy on Monday, Elon Musk released the following statement:
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
Musk is a zealous Twitter user with more than 83.5 million followers and a single tweet of his can get over 2 million likes, the highest on Twitter. Here are some of the changes he has proposed unofficially.
Some Changes Elon Suggests
Opening Up The Algorithm
Last month, Musk tweeted the “Twitter algorithm should be open source.” Dorsey even expressed his agreement. Twitter did roll out a feature in early March allowing users to alternate their timelines between seeing posts in chronological order and an algorithmic order. Just a few days later, Twitter walked back the change.
An open-source algorithm would make public the code Twitter uses to decide which tweets to promote and which to hide from users’ feeds. This change to Twitter’s software would also make visible the role of computer programs in moderating and policing content on the platform.
Conservatives, particularly, are wary that Twitter’s algorithm is biased against them. Making the code public, in theory, would make the service more transparent—or as Musk put it, show that there is no “behind-the-scenes manipulation.” However, open sourcing an algorithm is far more complex and may be harder to understand, which only experts can calculate.
An Edit Button
On April 1, Twitter said it was working on an edit button, a feature that would allow users to change or correct tweets after they are posted. While some users chalked it up as an April Fools’ joke, Musk – then the platform’s largest outside stakeholder – tweeted a poll asking followers if they wanted an edit button.
Of the more than 4.4 million voters in his poll, 75% said they wanted the option. The next day, Jay Sullivan, head of consumer product for Twitter, tweeted, “We’ve been exploring how to build an Edit feature in a safe manner since last year and plan to begin testing it within Twitter Blue Labs in the coming months.”
Twitter also establishes an edit button is in the making. Twitter co-founder and Musk friend Jack Dorsey said in a 2020 interview with Wired that the company would “probably never” create an edit button, noting that while it would be helpful for some errors, it could give way to malicious changes to tweets. Dorsey stepped down as Twitter’s CEO in 2021.
Elon Musk has previously asked followers in a Twitter poll if they believed the platform was protecting free speech. About 70% of the 2 million who responded said “no.” In his statement Monday, Musk called free speech “the bedrock of a functioning democracy” with Twitter serving as “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
Censorship on social media has been a major talking point, especially among right-wing users. A recent study by MIT and Yale researchers found more American Republican users were suspended within a six-month period; however, these users tended to share “more news from misinformation,” which Twitter has been working to remove from its site.
This leaves others wondering whether free speech includes hate speech and racial slurs. A lot has to be discovered in the new Twitter.
Elon Musk has described himself as a “free-speech absolutist” but is also known for blocking other Twitter users who question or disagree with him.
No More Ads or Bots
In a series of tweets earlier this month, Musk suggested multiple changes to Twitter, including removing ads and bots from the platform.
“The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive,” Musk said at the time. Nearly 90% of Twitter’s revenue in 2021 came from advertising. Twitter did announce last week, on Earth Day, that it would no longer allow advertisers on its site who deny the scientific consensus on climate change.
Twitter bans ads that contradict science on climate change. While he didn’t speak about ads in his statement released Monday, Musk did state that he wants to “[defeat] the spam bots” on the platform. Twitter recently reported about 5% of its users are bots, but noted “not all bots are bad” and that “good bots” are being labeled.
Elon Musk Earlier Suggested Improving Twitter’s Authentication of Verified User Accounts
Musk previously suggested improving Twitter’s authentication of verified user accounts, saying it would discourage the increase of spam accounts by making them too expensive to maintain.
Will Elon Musk restore Trump’s Twitter account?
The relationship between Trump and Musk on the surface seemed friendly in recent years.
Musk attended Trump’s business council meetings in 2017 and, in May of 2020, the former American president met up with Musk in Florida to watch the launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 at the Kennedy Space Center.
While Musk tweeted in 2017 that he directed a critical light at the Trump administration’s climate change and travel ban policies, the world’s richest man has found common ground with Trump in recent years.
Another question mark that rises after the jaw-dropping sale of Twitter is whether or not Trump even wants to revive his Twitter profile and its millions of followers.
Trump said Monday that he applauds Musk’s acquisition but that he has no plans to divert attention from his own platform, “Truth Social.”
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” Trump told Fox News. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH.”
Shares of Truth social dropped sharply Monday on the news, plunging more than 12% on the day. The would-be social media competitor has seen its stock value nearly halved since Musk announced his intentions to take over Twitter.
Meanwhile, a hilarious trend #leavingtwitter is going on about netizens leaving Twitter, take a look:
— M A S A L U 🗡️ (@YourMasalu) April 26, 2022