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This week, Musk brought back his offer to buy the company after trying to back out of the deal in the past. He hopes to avoid a legal showdown with the company over the deal. If the deal goes through, Tesla’s CEO has hinted publicly at a number of ways he might change the platform, including lessening restrictions on content, re-enabling banned accounts, and introducing an edit feature. More recently, a court filing made public last week revealed a trove of text messages between Musk and his business associates, giving an even more detailed glimpse into his plans to monetize and revamp the platform.
A number of problems must be solved before we can move forward with the deal. The parties are reportedly stuck on financing terms, and Twitter has yet to accept Musk’s $44 billion takeover offer. A Delaware Chancery judge ruled on Thursday that if a settlement isn’t reached by 5 p.m. on Oct. 28, she will set new trial dates in November after Musk’s request to drop the litigation was met with an objection from Twitter.
If the deal goes through, however, analysts say it could create new difficulties for the digital town square just weeks before the U.S. midterm elections due to Musk’s emphasis on unmoderated free speech.
Angelo Carusone, CEO of the non-profit media group, Media Matters, says, “No one’s prepared for the kind of onslaught that’s going to come.” “This is a real threat; we know the people he’s been talking to, and we see all the signs.”
Here are some ways in which Musk may change how Twitter works:
The current administration may be kicked-off
Most people expect Musk to start by getting rid of Agrawal, Twitter’s current CEO. Agrawal replaced co-founder Jack Dorsey last year. Despite their initial will to collaborate, Musk’s text messages to his business associates reveal his growing frustration with Agrawal’s leadership.
According to what Agrawal said to Musk on April 9th, Musk’s tendency to tweet pessimistic things like “Is Twitter dying?” was “not helping me make Twitter better.”
Just tell me what you accomplished this week. Elon Musk, who was at the time in talks to join Twitter’s board, responded. He continued, “This is a waste of time,” and said he would make an offer to purchase the business instead.
Since they have a tense history, Carusone speculates that Musk will replace Agrawal with a loyalist on day one of his ownership. Musk texted Twitter’s leader, Bret Taylor, “Fixing Twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work.”
Musk has also tweeted his displeasure with Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, portraying her as a symbol of “Twitter’s left-wing bias.”
Donald’s account may become active again – same for others alike
Musk has stated repeatedly that protecting free speech on Twitter and re-enabling former President Donald Trump’s account, which was permanently suspended last year after the deadly January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, would be his top priorities.
If you ask Carusone, “I think Musk will restore his account immediately the second that he gets the keys.” Since Trump recently launched his own social media platform, TRUTH Social, it is unclear if he will return to Twitter if invited.
Other banned users, such as those on the right who spread conspiracy theories or hate speech, could be re-platformed, according to analysts. Musk had previously text messaged Agrawal about his desire to undo all permanent Twitter bans “except for spam accounts and those that explicitly advocate violence.”
This means that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal Twitter account was suspended earlier this year for spreading false information about the COVID-19 vaccine, may soon be reinstated. The Babylon Bee, a conservative satire site, can get back on Twitter after being banned for a transphobic joke.
Will you save Twitter from its censorious users? The controversial podcast host Joe Rogan texted Musk the day his investment in Twitter became public, but before he made an offer to buy the company. “I will provide advice, which they may or may not choose to follow,” Musk said in response. To put it another way, (Musk’s latest offer would make the company private).
Fewer safeguards against extremism and false information
Musk could undo not only the bans on multiple accounts, but also the policy against misgendering transgender people and other measures designed to make Twitter safer for vulnerable users (typically women, LGBTQ individuals, and people of color).
In the past, he has stated that the platform’s content moderation policies would loosen up under his watch. In an April stage interview, Musk said, “If in doubt, let the speech exist.” When in doubt, I say the tweet should stand. If, however, the tweet in question has the potential to cause a lot of controversies, it’s obvious that you probably shouldn’t share it.
However, Twitter’s algorithm has previously been found to amplify harmful extreme political rhetoric or conspiracy theories by suggesting new accounts and content that users might be interested in. If there are fewer safeguards against false information and extremism, these worries could grow.
Extremists on the platform will increase “dramatically,” as Carusone puts it. As the author puts it, “not just by restoring accounts, but also by signaling to a whole bunch of other users that don’t currently use the platform that it’s open season.”
One of Musk’s April texts to Michael Kives, head of an investment firm, read: “Twitter is obviously not going to be turned into some right-wing nuthouse.” trying to appeal to the widest possible audience.
Many Twitter users have been asking for years for the ability to edit their tweets, and now it appears that Musk may be considering implementing this feature. According to a poll he conducted in March, roughly 74% of his Twitter followers approved of the edit function being added.
Among the trove of texts that were leaked was one from CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King, in which she expressed support for Musk’s idea of an edit button.
After initially rejecting the idea, Twitter began testing an edit button last month, giving subscribers in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand early access.
Twitter promised the update to its American users “soon,” but Musk in charge may move swiftly to roll out the change.
Early access users can only make five changes to their tweets before they are locked in their final form, which is intended to discourage frequent revisions. However, some worry that users will use the edit feature to replace their trending tweets with messages containing malicious sentiments, furthering the spread of false information or harmful content.
Musk may try to clean up Twitter Blue by eradicating spam bots
Musk’s main reason for pulling out of the original deal was the platform’s problem with spam bots, also known as fake accounts. Although his exact intentions remain a mystery, Musk may have been intrigued by the prospect of a blockchain-based future for Twitter in which users would be required to pay a small fee in order to send messages; this would prevent automated accounts from circumventing the paywall. Later, he explained why the plan wouldn’t work, saying, “the bandwidth and latency requirements cannot be supported by a peer-to-peer network.”
According to data analyzed by the Scottish digital skills academy CodeClan, Musk stands to lose an estimated 13.5 million followers if he succeeds in his plan to eliminate most bot accounts on Twitter.
Musk has also been extremely critical of Twitter Blue, a premium service that costs $4.99 per month and includes benefits like ad-free reading and bookmark folders. One of Musk’s Twitter strategic advisors, entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, texted him that Twitter Blue is “an insane piece of sh-t” and that “these dipsh-ts spent a year on Twitter Blue to give people exactly… Not even close to what they’re looking for!
Musk could make an “everything app” and call it “X”
Musk stated this week that after purchasing Twitter, he plans to develop a new app codenamed “X,” which could be an all-in-one super app similar to China’s WeChat, which is often compared to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Paypal combined into one unified platform.
He tweeted on Tuesday, “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” and later clarified that the acquisition could cut development time for the app by three to five years.
It’s not clear what Musk has in mind, but he’s long talked about how he wants Twitter to expand beyond tweets in order to compete with messaging giants like WeChat.
At a town hall with Twitter employees in June, the billionaire businessman said, “I think an important goal for Twitter would be to try to include as much of the country, as much of the world, as possible.” To paraphrase, “you basically live on WeChat in China because it’s so usable and helpful to daily life,” and “if we can achieve that, or even get close to that at Twitter, it would be an immense success.”
Musk has prior knowledge of payment processing, which could prove useful in developing a groundbreaking app in this area. One of the first online payment platforms, PayPal (which he had originally named X.com) has grown to become widely used around the world thanks to its creator.
Twitter staff may decide to leave
Adjunct professor of management at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management Robert McCann says that the deal’s collapse and Musk’s public criticism of Twitter and its leaders have significantly eroded trust. Employee morale has taken a hit, advertisers have been scared off, and I think the deeper issue is that it has created a sense of confusion, he told TIME in July. An insider report claims that some workers are considering leaving the company now that Musk is in charge. According to Platformer, morale at the company has been low since Musk’s renewed offer to buy the company earlier this week.
Even though Musk has promised to oversee a number of technical and operational changes at Twitter, his productivity may be hampered by concerns about his busy schedule and authoritarian management style. Even the most experienced CEOs of Fortune 500 companies would find it difficult to manage just one of their companies, let alone Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company, all of which report directly to Musk.
Eric Pliner, CEO of management consulting firm YSC Consulting and author of Difficult Decisions, told TIME in July that while there is a universe of incredibly talented, highly ambitious individuals who are CEOs of companies, almost none of them try to lead more than one at a time. “Focusing is essential for business leaders. Leadership calls for focus and the ability to rally others behind a common goal. It is difficult, at best, and sometimes impossible, for a single person to focus on so many different businesses at once.
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