Elon Musk has finally bought Twitter, promising — or, for some, threatening — a complete overhaul of one of the world’s largest social media platforms.
Self-proclaimed terms of reference Make sure everyone’s timeline is the ultimate home for free speechand a vague long-term goal Convert it to “X, Everything App”the billionaire is taking real action.
Sky News looks at what it might mean for the future of the platform and whether users should be hopeful or worried about what’s to come.
The first step towards a “universal application”
Musk has repeatedly talked about the “super app,” which he tentatively calls “X.”
Whether that’s what Twitter has become, or part of a larger platform he’s newly bought is uncertain — but it’s WeChat in Chinawhich combines familiar features like messaging, marketplaces, and public Twitter-style posts into one place.
“He had this idea,” Michael Flismas, author of Musk’s biography “Taking Risks,” told Sky News.
“While most people will get into the details and start their plans from there, Elon Musk tends to go straight beyond all of that and start with the big idea and deal with what’s coming.”
“It’s going to be the first step in another two-, three- or four-point plan, in my opinion, to accommodate what he wants to do next.”
For Musk’s critics, the “app for everything” ambiguity speaks to someone who has no real plan.
Jason Goldman, a member of Twitter’s founding team and a former board member, believes that the lack of a clear strategy is exactly what he Attempt to exit the transaction.
“He hasn’t come up with serious plans for what he wants to do with the platform,” he told Sky News.
“He wants to beat the robots, it’s about free speech, it’s all very casual.”
Everything you need to know about Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter
The ‘Wild West’ of free speech
Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist.”
He believes Twitter’s content moderation is too harsh and criticized the decision to ban high-profile but controversial individuals like donald trump.
World’s richest man’s loose stance on moderation could be a path, experts warn The ‘worst’ trolls to serve thriveturned Twitter into a “Wild West” where anything could go.
Mr Goldman, the White House’s first chief digital officer under Barack Obama, said: “Freedom of speech is an extremely important principle and anyone running an internet platform should start by embracing it.
“The problem is that Elon doesn’t really care about that – he wants more voices on the platform that fit his particular political views.”
Musk – the one being criticized Recent tweets about Ukraine and Taiwan — said Twitter’s approach to free speech would be based on individual country laws, which experts warned would empower authoritarian regimes.
“In the UK, we have a right to protect our opinions,” says Amelia Sordell, founder of branding agency Klowt.
“What about countries with laws against free speech? If Twitter complied with national laws, these people would have less rights, not more.”
Potential payoff for controversial voices
Mr Trump broke Twitter’s rules when he was believed to have used his account to incite unrest in the US Capitol.
It’s a high-profile intervention that matches other platforms like Facebook and comes after years of criticism from social media companies for not doing enough to crack down on dangerous content.
Musk’s attitude towards free speech and Reports of Twitter layoffs Fueled by concerns about moderate development.
“Elon clearly doesn’t take this job seriously,” Mr Goldman warned.
“That means there’s going to be a huge number of people in the company who know how these protections are implemented and how they work, which puts everyone at more risk.
“It’s not just ‘vile tweets’, it’s the breach of user privacy, the exposure of dissidents in authoritarian states, and things with real-world consequences.”
Since Mr. Trump was banned, he has launched his own platform, Truth Social, which promises users a safe space to “share your unique opinions.”
What about Kanye West?Earlier this month, he briefly returned to Twitter to complain about being banned from Instagram For an allegedly anti-Semitic post.
“Welcome back to Twitter, my friends,” Musk told West, before the rapper was immediately banned from Twitter.
West has since acquired Parlerwhich claims to be “committed to freedom of expression”.
new payment method
Twitter relies heavily on advertising — it partly blames the industry slowdown on its poor financial results earlier this summer.
Musk believes the solution is to provide a premium experience Some users will pay for it – Like a new verification token.
Mr. Goldman sees room for more advanced features for Twitter’s “power users”, but warns Musk’s moderate stance could alienate those most likely to pay.
“The problem is those power users don’t want to be on a platform, and advertisers don’t want to be on a platform because the discourse there seems more hostile […] All of these user safety issues have become more prominent,” he said.
“The real problem with subscriptions is access,” added Aaron Green, director of media and connections at R/GA London.
“Many users may not be able to afford a paid model and risk losing their existing user base.”
It’s clear that Elon Musk put a lot on his plate by acquiring Twitter.
If his ambitions for Twitter match his ambitions for other companies (from humanoid robot to life in space), the potential for change—for better or worse—is certainly considerable.
“SpaceX started with the grand idea of Mars, allowing us to colonize Mars — an impossible idea, but one that has reignited support, interest and enthusiasm for space,” Mr. Flismas said.
“Mars may never be a reality, but it’s the catalyst for a very effective SpaceX.
“I think Twitter is going to be a very different space, but is it going to be a better platform for humans the way Elon Musk wants? I think that’s the current social media Mars.
“But in the process of getting there, I certainly think he’s going to come up with some fancy ideas.”