On April 14th, Elon Musk made an announcement via Twitter that he offered to buy Twitter. That was until two weeks later, an agreement was made for Musk to buy Twitter for $44 million dollars. This, according to The Washington Post, led to an influx of left-leaning accounts to leave the platform and right-wing accounts to gain followers.
Seeing the reactions of people online and conversing with peers has made my opinion on the issue mixed. Do not get me wrong, I love watching chaos unfold. The original tweet Elon made was like adding water to a grease fire. I thought a change in management could direct Twitter in the direction of neutrality. But questions about the ethicality of a Twitter edit button and whether Musk would have banned Donald Trump’s Twitter account on January 6th, 2021, made me wonder if he would be fit for the job.
But, before we dive into the big questions, let us go over some of the more interesting changes Twitter could face.
The first possible change, and Musk’s main motivation, was free speech, and to make Twitter a place that was politically neutral. He reinforced this on Twitter by stating that:
By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law.
I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.
If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.
Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Despite this, fears of allowing accounts like those involved in the organization of the January 6th terrorist attack and Donald Trump back on Twitter have been raised. Though Musk has not made a statement about unbanning Donald Trump, many of the accounts that day tweeted, shared images, and videos threatening members of government. Some, including Donald Trump made tweets that, in their context, could be used to influence others to further incite violence. This is the grey area. Do the tweets themselves have to contain threats for them to be considered illegal? Will context matter in the future?
The next change that could potentially happen is making Twitter’s algorithm more transparent. According to ABC News, Musk believes that Twitter should make “the algorithms open source to increase trust.” The push for this is for people to see which posts are promoted over others and if there is a bias. Though there is no concrete proof that a bias occurs in Twitter’s algorithm, many right-wing accounts accuse the platform of allowing leftist accounts to receive more views.
Among the changes that could be happening, the most interesting of the bunch is the edit button. Now, if you are like me, spelling was not your best subject. I have found myself countless times having to delete a tweet because I caught an obvious spelling mistake, I did not notice while writing. Though an edit button might be beneficial for people like me, could an edit button be used unethically? One could use the edit button to change what they said and deceive others of what the tweet was. But, according to the New York Post, a Twitter code breaker was able to edit her tweet. It also shows that the tweet has been edited and notifies users when there is an updated version of the tweet.
How an edited Tweet looks like on Twitter Web App: pic.twitter.com/boouYlvhA3
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) May 2, 2022
Another interesting change that could be coming to Twitter is account authentication. One of the proposals that Elon Musk brought up is giving more accounts the blue check mark. Fortune writes that an increase in two-factor authentication could make people less likely to make different spam accounts.
Although Twitter released a paid subscription called Twitter Blue, it did not seem to garner a lot of success. YouTube has a similar feature called YouTube Premium. Business of Apps cites that this ad free option has 30 million subscribers as of 2020. With YouTube Premium’s success, a similar subscription service may be a promising move for Twitter.
The shakeup in Twitter’s leadership has a lot of people questioning if Twitter is in good hands. Though, after researching I have concluded that I am optimistic for the future of Twitter. The changes proposed, I believe will make the platform more trustworthy and politically neutral.