WITH ELON MUSK’S TAKE OVER OF TWITTER, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF SPECULATION ABOUT WHAT THIS COULD MEAN FOR THE PLATFORM. NATURALLY, THERE SEEMS TO BE A DIVIDED OPINION ON WHETHER THIS IS A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE CHANGE FOR THE POPULAR APP, WITH PARTICULAR CONCERNS ABOUT MUSK’S ‘FREE SPEECH’ FOCUS.
So, we did some digging and pulled together a few theories on what this could mean for the app. Let’s break them down.
#1 FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Elon has been very open about his ‘freedom of speech’ views and it looks like this could be a predominant focus of his takeover. Stating, “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”. But what does this actually mean for the future of Twitter?
The concern is that this means a lack of censorship when it comes to hateful or threatening speech on the platform. He said in a recent tweet, “For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally”. Some we think this could mean reinstating previously banned accounts, such as ex-president Donald Trump and far-right commentator Katie Hopkins. While Trump has said he has no intention of returning to the app, it’s unclear how quick others will be to jump back in.
Some users have already expressed concern that this new leadership could lead to an increase in hateful comments. While some are hanging about to see what these changes look like, others have already quit the app. Including actress Jameela Jamil who shared, “I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny”, only to be proven immediately right by receiving an influx of hate.
In response to these worries Elon has said, “By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.” However, this has only invited more questions. Such as, how exactly tweets are judged in line with the law and how this will be approached to fit the different laws in different countries? And, where will the line be drawn between political opinion and discriminatory comments?
#2 ADS REPLACED WITH SUBSCRIPTION
Elon has hinted at his desire to get rid of ads on Twitter, meaning revenue to keep the app up and running has to come from elsewhere. Speculation suggests that Twitter could evolve into a subscription service. ‘Twitter Blue’ already exists in some countries as an optional upgrade but, could this become the sole method of use in the future? If so, it does seem likely that charging users would lead many to permanently leave, particularly its more idle users.
Musk has since come out to say that he will never charge regular users to use the app. Suggesting that businesses and brands will be the ones paying up. It’s hard to judge currently whether or not this would be a good alternative to ads for the brands that use that platform. It will also be interesting to see how this pricing would be worked out – whether it’s a one price fits all deal or whether it varies according to brand size, or many other factors.
He has also made a point of his goal to eliminate bots across the platform. This could be approached with a ‘real names only’ format, similar to Facebook. This has the potential to significantly reduce spam and hate comments as users will no longer have the ability to hide in anonymity.
#3 TOO MUCH POWER
If this isn’t an economical purchase then what is the real purpose of this transaction? A larger concern is that this is more to do with Musk’s desired control over the app. With other major social media and news platforms being in the hands of billionaires, the ability the extremely wealthy have to decide on the rules for the rest of us has become quite a concern to some. Although, Elon is certainly not the first to spark this conversation.
The worry is that this is too much power for one person. Especially for a platform that is relied on so heavily for news and is used by world leaders and other prominent figures. Some are concerned that the news and opinions we will see on the app will be too closely moulded around one person’s opinion rather than being a platform that provides diverse opinions and sources.
#4 SPREADING HIMSELF TOO THIN
Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company and Neuralink and now Twitter. Maintaining a prominent position across so many companies seems like A LOT to handle, even for a known workaholic.
So, could this mean a shift of focus from one of his other companies? Tesla shares have already seen a dip amidst the talks of Musk taking over Twitter suggesting that those invested in his other companies are already feeling slightly concerned. While it’s probable that he does have a plan to balance all of this at once, it will certainly not be an easy balance.
Only time will really tell what Musk has in store for Twitter and what that means in the long term for the app. But, if this does turn out to be the fall of Twitter has anyone got a replacement platform for us to join?
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