Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, is the new owner of Twitter; the social network that he has constantly criticized for promoting censorship, but which will now become a platform for freedom of speech.
Twitter has been an influential social network, it was also an instrument of censorship during the 2020 election campaign; it is also an information platform for countries where the media has been taken over by dictatorial governments. In short, Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter is more than a “simple” investment.
Elon Musk decided to buy the totality of the social network in a deal valued at $44 billion 11 days after it was disclosed that he had acquired a first 9.2% stake in the company.
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What does it mean that Elon Musk is the new owner of Twitter?
Musk’s own discourse on Twitter is that he is buying it to make it better, not for money or influence.
“I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means,” Musk said Monday, April 25.
That the tycoon is the new owner of the social network would mean joy for conservative and Republican leaders who had been silenced; but, on the other hand, it represents a blow to Democrats, left-wing leaders and progressive movements that have been in favor of censorship against dissent.
What changes are coming for Twitter?
Goodbye to censorship: Musk has publicly expressed what he wants to do with Twitter, making it clear that one of his goals is to loosen content moderation. The tycoon has said that the social network should be a “de facto public town square” of the modern era. In fact, he criticized the social network’s decision to permanently ban access to former President Donald Trump after January 6.
Algorithm change: another issue Musk has raised has to do with Twitter’s role in shaping society and the possibility of the social network becoming an open repository that allows anyone to recommend changes and features.
On March 24, the entrepreneur polled his followers on whether they believe the algorithm should be “open source,” a term for software that is freely distributed and can be manipulated by many different contributors. The majority answered yes.
Tweets will be editable: Musk is in favor of the edit button that Twitter users have been requesting for years. He has supported the hope that Twitter will someday add an edit feature, so users can correct at least basic spelling errors or bad links immediately after posting.
Its more than 80 million followers also overwhelmingly supported adding the feature in a poll. Notably, Twitter recently said it has been working on the feature for a while.
Goodbye bots: we know that dozens of governments around the world make use of armies of bots to establish mass conversation or misinformation. Now, with Musk’s arrival as the new owner of Twitter, he will remove spam accounts that promote what appear to be crypto-based scams.
Verified accounts: Musk has also left open the possibility of adding profile verification to Twitter Blue, the subscription-based system, and allowing the mere payment of this service to authenticate an account.
Longer tweets: while Twitter extended the text capacity from 140 to 280 characters, Musk mentioned the possibility of adding “long tweets” to the platform; a proposal that came in response to a long thread submitted by Yishan Wong, former CEO of Reddit, who commented on the possible acquisition of Twitter by the billionaire.
We must wait to see the changes that will be made at first, not only in the social network as such, but in the company that has thousands of employees at its disposal and that many of them have participated in and promoted the censorship.