What will happen to Twitter after the purchase of Elon Musk? Possible changes for users

Last Monday Twitter entered a new era. Since its opening in 2006, the social network – one of the oldest active together with Facebook – became the property of Elon Musk in exchange for 44 billion dollars, who indicated his intentions to privatize it to make his environment safer with shares. like “remove spam bots and authenticate all humans”.

But the new Musk era of Twitter may bring more with it. What changes will we have to face on Twitter? What does Musk want to do with the social network?

Changes in the Musk era of Twitter

Freedom of opinion: goodbye classical moderation

Elon Musk has long been critical of the platform’s content policies. When Twitter’s board of directors approved his acquisition, the billionaire asserted that freedom of expression is the “foundation” of a functioning democracy and praised the platform as the “Digital plaza where vital issues for the future of humanity are discussed”.

One of the first actions of the now owner of the social network could be modify Twitter’s moderation rules and allow suspended accounts to return. And in that case, we would see people like former US President Donald Trump return to Twitter, permanently suspended from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat following the riots at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. His posts were considered arsonists and Twitter had warned of the “risk of further incitement to violence”.

Jeffrey Howard, Associate Professor at University College London, points to the BBC that relaxing moderation on Twitter could be “easily turned into a weapon” by criminals, bots and people who use it for “malicious purposes” and to “inciting hate and violence. I think Elon Musk is relatively naive about the real challenges of content moderation. He will learn that you can’t have such a permissive approach to content management.”

Bodies like the European Commission and the UK government have reminded Musk of the duty he now has to protect the rights of Twitter users. Angelo Carusone, director of the non-governmental organization Media Matters for America, told Al Jazeera media: “Musk isn’t buying Twitter for financial reasons, though he thinks he can make some money from it. He is buying it for ideological reasons. And that’s ultimately what’s scary.”

no ads

Advertising on Twitter accounts for 90% of the application’s revenue. Elon Musk bought 10% of Twitter shares in early April, making him the company’s largest shareholder at the time – a prelude to what was to come. And in a series of since-deleted tweets, he suggested that he would like to remove the ads on Twitter’s premium subscription service, Twitter Blue: ”The power of companies to dictate policy increases considerably if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive“.

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According to experts such as analyst Rachel Foster-Jones of GlobalData, Elon Musk may have to “Balancing his dreams of a free, ad-free discussion space with the harsh realities of Twitter’s core business model. Musk will have to seriously revamp Twitter’s subscription model, Twitter Blue, if he wants to move away from advertising.”

The edit button

In early April, Musk launched a survey about one of Twitter’s oldest dilemmas: the inclusion of a button to edit already published messages. And it is that for many years a large part of the users have been asking for it, since if not the only way to correct a tweet is to delete it and write it again. The survey, a complete success, had almost 4.5 million votes in which the ‘YES’ vote won by an overwhelming 76.6%.

Twitter wanted to make it clear that the edit button is not something that is coming because Elon Musk asks for it on behalf of the tweeting community, but rather that it came from before. In fact, Twitter has acknowledged what “We have been working on the editing feature since last year. No, we haven’t gotten the idea from a poll.”

Specifically, the way it will work is to generate a new message that will link directly to the original message. That is, no matter how much you edit a message, the original will still exist. This means that no one will be able to skip the fact of having posted a message and that it is not known what was posted at the beginning.

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This is the great doubt that raises us the new history of edited tweets. The logical thing would be that nobody had access to this feature once the changes were made so that they would be recorded in the future. In this way, many could avoid changing positions of thought at will or denying the publication of something.

Real users or outside

Musk has talked about “defeat spam bots”, a promise that is likely to be very popular with Twitter users. It is obvious that the social network has long had problems with fake and automated accounts that are used to endlessly publish unhelpful or misleading content.

Jamie Moles, a senior sales engineer at cybersecurity firm ExtraHop, says that while removing Twitter bots seems like a daunting task, if Mr. Musk succeeds “the methods used by Twitter to remove bots from the platform may lead to new techniques that improve the detection and identification of spam emails, spam posts, and other malicious intrusion attemptsmore generally.

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However, Robin Mansell, Professor of New Media and the Internet at the London School of Economics, claims that “sthere will always be mistakes in the authentication of users by humans or algorithms.

open source algorithm

The algorithm, or the piece of code that determines the priority with which tweets are served to users, will become “open source” or available for public viewing and improvement. Musk said this will help prevent “backstage manipulation” such as fueling massive propaganda abroad, of which Facebook has been accused during the campaign of former US President Donald Trump in 2016.

But some analysts have objected that Musk’s proposal vastly simplifies how data publishing works and that the move raises serious privacy concerns. Ramesh Srinivasan, professor of media studies at the University of California, points out that algorithms promote engagement by directing emotional reactions, which is why hateful content is the most viral.

Therefore, “[Musk] It has to address the underlying driver that is the instrument of freedom of expression, to make sure that freedom of expression is balanced and not towards hate speech,” Srinivasan said.