Why Elon Musk buying Twitter changes the internet
Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion
Twitter is scheduled to get major product upgrades
There are questions on the impact of Musk on the platform
Elon Musk says Twitter is the digital town square. Town squares, historically, are public spaces where people from all walks of life can come and have their say. It was the Earl of Bedford who built the first private-venture town square -- the plaza. Since then, the nature of the town square has undergone severe changes and now comes in a pocket-friendly touchscreen. But the public town square going private and the publicly-held digital town square going to the world’s wealthiest man has implications for all.
Musk buying Twitter has opened a Pandora’s box of concerns about how the social media darling will treat his own social media network. There are questions on whether Musk will retain a board at his new company, how content will be moderated on the social platform and whether or not will Twitter finally get an edit button, which has been in the works for a while.
All these are major changes for the product itself, but some of the changes have greater impact than others. For example, the content moderating team on Twitter has the capacity to cause or pause communal conflagrations and stop or spread disinformation with grave geopolitical conflict or provide a platform to climate change deniers.
When such power is invested in a publicly-traded company, there is at a chance that even while profit is the prime mover, shareholders may step and ask the company to play a particular role. With power invested in a greater number of people, the opportunity for alternative voices to come through remains.
Such is not expected to be the case in Elon Musk’s Twitter, which could turn into the billionaire’s private fiefdom. Right before Musk’s Twitter deal went through, one of the first questions asked in public fora was if former United States President Donald Trump was going to stage a comeback on the platform.
Trump, however, quickly dissipated the rumours. While Trump is said to be close to Musk, the former US president told Fox News Monday that he is not going to Twitter but will stay on TRUTH. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH,” he said.
Donald Trump was removed from Twitter after his tweets allegedly fuelled the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.
After the deal went through, Musk put up a post jointly with Twitter which said: “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,” said Musk.
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithm’s open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” said Musk.