New Twitter changes Elon Musk might affect: Twitter is usually inundated with conversation topics, but one has stuck out in particular over the last few days: what does the future hold for Twitter itself?
Elon Musk is going to buy the site for $44 billion (£35 billion) pending shareholder approval, and tweeters all across the world have voiced their concerns.
No one knows what the billionaire entrepreneur has planned, and even Twitter’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, has admitted that the future is unknown. However, the world’s richest man has provided some hints.
Ensure that users are real
Mr. Musk has promised to “fight the spambots,” a commitment that is sure to be well received by Twitter users.
Twitter has long had a problem with automated, fictitious accounts posting unhelpful or deceptive content.
While removing the Twitter bots appears to be a difficult task, Jamie Moles, a senior sales engineer at cybersecurity firm ExtraHop, believes that if Mr. Musk succeeds, “the methods used by Twitter to eliminate bots from the platform may generate new techniques that improve the detection and identification of spam emails, spam posts, and other malicious intrusion attempts” more widely.
However, according to Robin Mansell, a professor of new media and the internet at the London School of Economics, human or algorithmic verification of users would “always be flawed.”
Prof Mansell claims that “anyone who gives certainty in this domain is full of hype or wishful thinking.”
“As Musk becomes more absorbed in the industry, he’ll realize that there are more limits and governance mechanisms to which these firms must adhere when operating overseas.”
Editing tweets after they’ve been sent
In a Twitter poll before his bid for Twitter, Mr. Musk asked his followers if they wanted an edit button.
As a result, Twitter confirmed that it was working on a feature that would allow users to edit tweets after they had been published.
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Users have been clamoring for an edit button for a long time, but there are issues with how to implement it.
On the plus side, users would be able to correct typos or errors in a tweet without losing any existing replies, retweets, or favorites.
But, as Jay Sullivan, the company’s vice president of consumer products, cautioned last month, if it isn’t handled properly, it might harm the platform’s transparency.
Mr Sullivan has said “without things like time limits, controls, and transparency about what has been edited” such a feature “could be misused to alter the record of the public conversation”.
No more advertisements?
Mr. Musk suggested in a series of now-deleted tweets that he’d like to get rid of advertisements on Twitter’s premium subscription service Twitter Blue after becoming the company’s largest shareholder earlier in April.
Mr. Musk stated, “Corporate ability to control policy is dramatically boosted if Twitter relies on advertising money to operate.”
Despite the entrepreneur’s concerns about marketers’ influence over Twitter rules, the platform currently earns around 90% of its revenue from advertisements.
Twitter reported revenue of $1.57 billion for the three months ending in December, with ad income of $1.41 billion, both up 22 percent year over year.
Mr. Musk indicated that Twitter Blue might be improved and that it may be used as a source of revenue in the future. He’s also mentioned that he wants to lower the price.
Users may access extra features like a “undo tweet” button through the service, which began last year and is available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
However, according to GlobalData analyst Rachel Foster-Jones, Elon Musk may need to “balance his ambitions of a free debating environment devoid of advertising with the hard realities of Twitter’s fundamental business model.”
“If Musk wants to move away from advertising, he’ll have to radically overhaul Twitter’s subscription model, Twitter Blue,” she says.
Allow for more flexibility in terms of content rules.
Mr. Musk has long been an outspoken critic of Twitter’s content regulations, and there is talk that he may change the platform’s moderation rules to allow suspended accounts, such as that of former US President Donald Trump, to resurface.
The billionaire argued that free expression was the “bedrock” of a functional democracy as his takeover was authorized by Twitter’s board, and praised the platform as the “digital town square where things crucial to the survival of humanity are debated.”
Mr. Musk has previously defined himself as a “free speech absolutist,” but it is unclear how he views the idea.
He’s also blocked users on the network who have previously criticized him or his businesses.
According to Jeffrey Howard, associate professor at University College London, if the billionaire loosens Twitter’s content control regulations, he could be in for a “rude awakening.”
Mr. Howard worries that criminals, bots, and others using Twitter for “malicious objectives” and to “incite hate and violence” may “easily weaponize” the platform.
“Elon Musk, in my opinion, is naive about the genuine issues of content filtering. As a result of this, he will realize that content management cannot simply be left to chance.”
Mr. Musk has been reminded of his responsibility to protect Twitter users’ rights by both the UK government and the European Commission. And it’s unclear what improvements Mr. Musk will be able to make with severe new regulations to combat online abuse on the horizon, such as the UK government’s Online Harms Bill.
The takeover has already polarized political opinion in the United States.
Right-wingers who believe social media firms are unfairly targeting them have applauded the agreement. Left-wing critics have been harsher, with Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren describing it as “destructive for our democracy.”
While Mr. Musk may be able to help Twitter “recover its mojo,” Peter Vidlicka, a media specialist and co-founder of the public relations website Newspage, believes that “given the current socio-cultural milieu, we should expect pyrotechnics in the months ahead.”