Elon Musk completed a $44 billion deal on Thursday night to take over Twitter after several months of waffling, mudslinging, and legal challenges.
Hate speech and misinformation experts are bracing for the return of Donald Trump and other hate speech and misinformation specialists.
Musk had expressed in May his disappointment in Trump’s removal from the social media platform, saying, “I think that was a mistake. It alienated the country and did not result in Donald Trump not having a voice. I think it was a morally bad decision and foolish in the extreme.”
Before the ink was dry, Musk had fired four top executives who had supported the ban of Trump.
Those no longer at the top include Parag Agrawal, the chief executive; Ned Segal, the chief financial officer; Vijaya Gadde, the top legal and policy executive; and Sean Edgett, the general counsel.
On Thursday, Musk attempted to soothe concerned advertisers suggesting content moderation would continue.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences,” he wrote. “Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world.”
Musk, 51, will be remaking Twitter without having to disclose how it is performing every few months. By taking the company private, he does not need to regularly answer to shareholders and can make changes to the service away from the public’s prying eyes.
Yet there are more concerns that Musk’s wish for free speech will re-introduce banned users who embraced hate speech and disinformation. This could be other political voices beyond Trump himself, as well as QAnon voices and Covid-19 deniers.
It is not clear yet whether the clear out of senior management is the beginning of company-wide job cuts. Earlier reports suggested 75% of staff at the social media company were set to lose their jobs but those reports were “inaccurate”, according to Ross Gerber, a shareholder in both Twitter and Tesla. Gerber suggested there would likely be the removal of product managers, and the ending of dead-end projects.
Some Twitter users have been asking for other changes to the platform.
Musk had previously stated he was concerned about the number of bots on Twitter.
- “Elon, next step is the bots. Please. We are begging you,” one user tweeted.
- “All user accounts need a verified human behind it, can be anonymous to the public, but required and verified by twitter behind the curtain,” someone else said. “Rid this world of Bots and trolls!”
Some users are asking for usage to be monetized, allowing a way to make money from tweets.
- Many social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok allow users to make money from their posts. Twitter has not joined the camp yet.
- “I disagree with paying creators on this platform,” another user said. “If this is truly going to be a free speech town square then we should not give people different height soap boxes. Draw people to the town square for the same reasons they went to the real ones.”
Additional thoughts include the removal of ads with subscriptions to Twitter Blue, the option to save videos along with pictures, and dislike and edit buttons.
- The following is an interesting discussion from NPR about the future of Twitter.