The Elon Musk Era of Twitter Is Here: What It Means for You

Billionaire Elon Musk has brash notions for Twitter. Now, he wants to truly make them a actuality. 

Late Thursday, Musk closed a deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, setting the stage for large change on the social media firm. His first order of enterprise: firing key executives on the firm, together with CEO Parag Agrawal. 

Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been chaotic as a result of he is modified his thoughts repeatedly about shopping for the social media platform. From the skin wanting in, the world’s richest man has been vocal about his lofty visions for Twitter’s future. Now on the within, Musk has to attempt to deliver his wildest Twitter ambitions to life — or swap gears but once more. 

For normal customers, meaning the Twitter you as soon as knew might change into a factor of the previous. The corporate, nonetheless probably the most influential locations on the web, might begin including extra options resembling funds, evolving past only a social media platform. Content material moderation on the location might change into extra lax, making it harder for customers to grapple with harassment, hate speech and different abuse.  

Already, Musk has tossed round a ton of aspirations, like defeating spam bots, morphing Twitter into an “the whole lot app” much like WeChat and ratcheting up progress to 1 billion customers. On the midpoint of this 12 months, Twitter had about 238 million folks utilizing the service day by day. Fb, by comparability, is nearing 2 billion. 

One in all his most controversial strategies: reversing the everlasting ban on former US President Donald Trump, which was put in place two days after the lethal riot on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Twitter warned that Trump’s tweets risked inciting additional violence. 

However even earlier than he confronted the truth of proudly owning the corporate, not all of Musk’s concepts have caught. 

At one level, Musk recommended a blockchain-based model of Twitter and floated the concept of turning Twitter’s headquarters right into a homeless shelter. He deleted tweets in April that beneficial Twitter’s $5-a-month Blue subscription service take away all adverts for members, hand out authentication checkmarks mechanically and let subscribers pay by the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. 

And Musk, who as soon as proclaimed he “hates promoting,” modified his tune on Thursday, tweeting an ode to entrepreneurs that “promoting, when accomplished proper, can delight, entertain and inform you.”

“Twitter’s advert enterprise is already on shaky floor,” mentioned Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg. “Uncertainty arising from the weak financial system and Musk’s erratic habits have led to advertiser pullback.” 

Musk’s legal professional Alex Spiro did not instantly reply to a request for remark.

Listed below are three modifications Musk retains pushing for at Twitter — and what that might seem like for you:

Creating an ‘the whole lot app’

Twitter might change into a platform that is identified for extra than simply sharing your ideas. The service has been attempting to fold in additional options resembling buying and tipping, however Twitter hasn’t drastically modified in recent times.

Musk has mentioned he needs to create a service much like WeChat, a Chinese language messaging app that lets customers do the whole lot from make funds, play video games and store. He sees proudly owning Twitter as a part of this huge imaginative and prescient.

“Shopping for Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the the whole lot app,” Musk tweeted in October. 

If Twitter managed to tackle this form of Swiss Military knife id, that might imply you would be turning to the app not just for scorching takes and memes, but in addition for meals supply and sending or receiving cash. 

That would imply that Twitter modifications into an app like WeChat or will get folded into a brand new app totally.

However to realize this objective, Twitter must attain a stage of dominance that it is by no means even approached. A part of WeChat’s success was that, when it grew to be ubiquitous, it loved comparatively modest competitors in mainland China in contrast with the state of web companies right now. Twitter, whereas persevering with to compete with different social networks like Meta’s Fb and TikTok, would want to begin taking up PayPal, GrubHub and others too.

WeChat additionally added its options over greater than a decade. Musk creating an “the whole lot app” would take years. 

Discovering methods to become profitable outdoors of adverts

Twitter logo in front of US money

Twitter makes most of its cash from adverts.

James Martin/CNET

Whereas Musk tried to appease advertisers on Thursday, he is made it clear up to now he is not the most important fan of promoting. Twitter’s dilemma is it makes most of its cash from adverts.

In late April, Musk advised banks he wouldn’t solely search for methods to chop prices however discover methods to become profitable from viral tweets or those who included essential data, Reuters reported. He additionally recommended charging third-party web sites a payment after they quote or embed a tweet from verified people or organizations.

Musk has additionally praised strategies that Twitter introduce a paid membership that features 24-hour customer support or give creators an incentive to publish to Twitter first by providing them a greater break up of advert income than rivals resembling TikTok and YouTube.

Theoretically, meaning you can end up confronted with paying for brand spanking new companies, resembling getting an worker to assist recuperate a hacked account. 

Twitter has already been experimenting with the concept of memberships that unlock early entry to options resembling an edit button. However getting customers to pay for brand spanking new instruments and subscriptions on an app most have all the time used without spending a dime could possibly be a tricky promote, particularly at a time when inflation is propelling folks to chop again spending.

Resetting the principles of free expression 

Phone screen filled with Twitter icons

Twitter has guidelines about what customers are allowed to put up on the platform.

James Martin/CNET

Musk, an avid person of Twitter with greater than 110 million followers, has additionally been one in every of Twitter’s harshest critics relating to how the location moderates content material. 

“It is very important the way forward for civilization to have a standard digital city sq.,” he mentioned in a tweet on Thursday. “There may be at present nice hazard that social media will splinter into far-right wing and far-left-wing echo chambers that generate extra hate and divide our society.”

On the similar time, Twitter cannot change into “a free-for-all hellscape, the place something will be mentioned with no penalties,” he added. Musk has mentioned Twitter ought to solely police speech that is unlawful, however he has additionally vowed to defeat spam and pretend accounts on the platform.

Whereas Musk has painted himself as a free-speech savior, leaving up dangerous content material might make informal Twitter customers extra cautious of spending time on the platform or sharing their ideas. 

His views on how Twitter moderates content material are already dealing with scrutiny from advocacy and civil rights teams. Critics concern his takeover will result in rolling again progress that Twitter has made combating hate speech, harassment and different offensive content material.

Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Middle for Enterprise and Human Rights, mentioned he is most involved about Musk’s resolution to fireplace Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of authorized coverage, belief, and security. Gadde did not reply to a request for remark.

“The hazard right here is that within the identify of ‘free speech,’ Musk will flip again the clock and make Twitter right into a stronger engine of hatred, divisiveness, and misinformation about elections, public well being coverage, and worldwide affairs,” Barrett mentioned in a press release.

On Friday, Musk tweeted that Twitter might be forming a “content material moderation council with extensively numerous viewpoints.” Whereas Musk has mentioned he would reverse Trump’s everlasting ban on the platform, he additionally famous that “no main content material choices or account reinstatements will occur earlier than that council convenes.”

However within the US, if Twitter solely took down what’s required by legislation, it will be eradicating loads lower than it does right now. Twitter has a prolonged listing of guidelines about what is not allowed on its website — not all of it outright unlawful. Twitter should take down baby sexual abuse imagery, for instance, however the platform additionally removes tweets that include dangerous COVID-19 misinformation. Misinformation, regardless of how harmful it may be, is not essentially unlawful in international locations just like the US. 

One other huge situation is Twitter’s reliance on adverts. Companies don’t need their adverts subsequent to offensive content material, a problem Twitter has run into earlier than. 

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