Possible Twitter changes

Elon Musk has bought Twitter and he plans to introduce some changes Photo/Courtesy

Elon Musk has bought Twitter and the world anticipates him to implement some of the changes on the platform if his past speeches and tweets are anything to go by.

The world’s richest person has styled himself as a free-speech crusader and believes that Twitter should uphold and promote freedom of speech and therefore democracy.

Is it about time Twitter had an edit feature? On April 1, Twitter said it was working on an edit button, a feature that would allow users to change or correct tweets after they are posted. On the same day Musk, an avid user of Twitter tweeted a poll asking followers if they wanted an edit button.

More than 4.4 million Twitter users voted in the poll. Of these, 75% said they wanted the option. As if getting cues from Musk, on the following day, Jay Sullivan, the head of consumer product for Twitter, tweeted, suggesting that Twitter had an Edit button plan.

“We’ve been exploring how to build an Edit feature safely since last year and plan to begin testing it within Twitter Blue Labs in the coming months,” said Sullivan.

However, with Musk being the owner of the powerful social media platform, chances are high that the feature will come sooner than anticipated. Currently, Twitter doesn’t have an edit button. Once you tweet, you can’t edit it. But you can delete it.

Musk’s full entrance into Twitter could also mean the end of ads and bots on Twitter space. In the recent past, the Tesla owner has been suggesting that adverts and bots should be banned from Twitter. This, he says, will be a big step toward the promotion of free speech and democracy.

“The power of corporations to dictate policy is greatly enhanced if Twitter depends on advertising money to survive,” Musk said. 

Almost 90% of Twitter’s revenue in 2021 came from advertising. Again, as though reading from Musk’s scripts, Twitter announced last week that it would no longer allow advertisers on its site who deny the scientific consensus on climate change.

Twitter recently revealed that about 5% of its users are bots, but noted “not all bots are bad” and that “good bots” are being labelled.

To prevent so many unnecessary tweets on the platform, Musk has previously suggested improving Twitter’s authentication of verified user accounts. He argued that that would discourage the expansion of spam accounts by making them too costly to sustain.

Twitter algorithms could also be made public sooner than you thought.

Last month, Musk tweeted that “Twitter algorithms should be open source.” 

If this happens, Twitter users won’t be instructed, directly or indirectly, on the content that they should consume, the accounts they should follow and so forth. 

Musk hasn’t offered many details about an open-source algorithm but he recently explained during a  TED Talk that users should be able to see if tweets have been promoted or demoted. He also said users should be able to view the algorithm and offer improvements to it. 

Pro-Trump and Conservative Twitter users are excited that Musk might restore former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

 In his statement Monday, Musk called free speech “the bedrock of a functioning democracy” with Twitter serving as “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”

Censorship on social media has been a major talking point, especially among right-leaning users. Musk has detailed some specific potential changes surrounding free speech on Twitter. For example, he is suggesting temporary suspension rather than permanent bans from Twitter. 

However, this has elicited a lot of fear and panic from communication experts and policymakers, who think that if Twitter is made more friendly, it might morph into a social media riot camp.

Shoshana Zuboff, a former Harvard University professor, for example, argues that social media companies like Facebook and Twitter extract as much data about users as possible and then try to maximize their time on the site because that earns them money. However, she argues that the platforms lack neutrality since they can alter discussions, beliefs and even physical actions, encouraging people to do what they otherwise would not, such as joining uprisings in the real world.

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