Freedom of expression, transparency and the search for bots… What will the new owner change?

But what will the Tesla leader do with his new game? In just ten days, Elon Musk’s proposal to take over Twitter came true. The world’s richest man has offered the social network $44 billion, an agreement that should expire at the end of 2022 according to the official press release. This acquisition raises questions about the future direction of the blue bird when the founder of Space X is known for his extreme stances, particularly in favor of unrestricted freedom of speech. 20 minutes I wondered what upheaval this change of trend could cause on Twitter.

American freedom of expression

“Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the public digital arena where issues vital to the future of humanity are discussed,” Elon Musk said in the official acquisition statement. So the billionaire’s first will to buy Twitter is to venerate this freedom of expression. Anushika Stanislaus, a specialist in digital public policy, responded, “He has a very libertarian view of free speech and sees the Internet as a border that must be conquered and crossed.”

However, Elon Musk’s room to maneuver in favor of unrestricted expression will be limited. The European Union has just reached an agreement on the DSA, the “Digital Service Act,” which will require platforms to “urgently” remove all illegal content and suspend users who “repeatedly” violate the law. If the entrepreneur stipulates that he is aware of the need for Twitter to be subject to the laws of different countries, it is possible that the latter will become more strict in the coming years.

Less moderation can lead to more moderation

Because “all platforms will face this question [de modération] And they will have to develop while still enjoying an unconstrained environment,” analyzes Henry Isaac, who directs a master’s degree in management, communications and media at Paris Dauphine University. “Maybe he can do something in the United States, but in Europe it will be much more difficult.” Especially since the billionaire aspires to moderate what is only illegal in a particular country, a vision that requires the platform to train and appoint moderators for specific legislation.

Because “what needs to be modified in India, is not necessarily in the Philippines,” asserts Anushika Stanislaus who believes the entrepreneur “goes back 15 years without any thoughts of moderation.” For example, Holocaust denial is not punishable across the Atlantic while it is prohibited here. Elon Musk’s desire not to set rules on a global scale for moderation at least may prompt Twitter to spend more on moderation. Especially since 2021, the platform revealed that it has employed less than 2,000 supervisors worldwide.

keyword: transparency

Elon Musk also wants to address the platform’s lack of transparency. To do this, the tech mogul wants to make his algorithm public in order to “increase trust” of users. For Henri Isaac, who heads the Renaissance Numérique research group, putting the Twitter recipe open source “can help collectively improve the network, making it healthier and more efficient.” This declaration would “check how the algorithm works” which, he says, is “easy to manipulate”.

Conversely, Anushika Stanislaus is concerned that “malicious actors exploit this to promote their products while source codes are usually only disclosed to researchers and authorized persons.” Among the Twitter malicious actors are bots that the PayPal co-founder wants to “defeat or die trying.” These bot accounts are often used to harass users en masse or escalate issues on the platform. To get rid of it, Elon Musk specifically aims to validate all humans who use Twitter.

stock market exit

In order to “realize the potential” of Twitter, Elon Musk wants to exit the stock market, a process that will give more freedom to its new owner and protect it economically during the transition, many aspects of which remain unclear. Freed from market constraints, the billionaire will be able to work on a new economic model for Twitter.

Because, with 217 million daily users versus 1.929 billion users on Facebook and 500 million users on Instagram, Twitter acts like a dwarf in its world. The Blue Bird also struggles when it comes to doing the math: It took the company twelve years to turn a profit, and its $5 billion turnover in 2021 still pales in comparison to its competitors. “It’s a social network that is always striving to monetize its audiences,” says Henri Isaac, who heads a master’s degree in Communications and Media Management at Université Paris-Dauphine.

Twitter soon in freemium?

With free voice, perhaps Twitter, which has already been struggling to attract advertisers wary of association with sulfur content, may have to change its economic model. So far based on advertising, the social network can switch to a freemium model that combines a free offer and a paid offer, with more functionality. For example, the Edit button can be reserved to pay the Twittos fee.

Most social networks are free, but “there are alternative models even if they are few in number,” emphasizes Henri Isaac, who specifically cites Linkedin and Xing, a German-speaking professional social network. However, Elon Musk emphasized that his acquisition of the Blue Bird was “not at all” for economic purposes at TED Talks on April 14.

New adventure of the blue bird

The founder of Space X is still a seasoned entrepreneur. From PayPal to conquering space, Elon Musk knew how to compete with boldness and determination in order to grow his business. The challenge can be daunting with the bluebird, which has never managed to find an economic model.

Thus, the changes that Elon Musk can make to the platform are numerous, and they may surprise us, other than the expected questions looming on the horizon. “So far, we haven’t seen very well where this social network is headed. It could be an opportunity to reinvent itself for Twitter,” asserts Henry Isaacs who considers it, “Anyway, a sign that things are changing in this space.”

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