Twitter Takeover by Elon Musk

  • IASbaba
  • April 28, 2022
  • 0
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Twitter Takeover by Elon Musk

Context:  Social Media platforms have become so vital to the present socio-economic-political lives of people that any changes in the working of these platforms not only impact the firm but has consequences on the larger society.

Recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pledged roughly $44bn to buy the social media platform Twitter making him the next owner of it.

  • The board unanimously approved the bid, which will now be presented to shareholders for a vote.
  • Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist”, has promised to develop new features on the platform which is keenly watched by the world.

Criticisms with Twitter

  • Twitter has been long accused promoting hate speech and divisive propaganda. It has also been accused of inconsistencies in labelling content as problematic.
  • All these had given the perception that created the perception that it is an interested player rather than a disinterested platform
  • Its efforts to make it a place for healthy conversations — from creating policies around abuse and disinformation to unleashing technology for spotting problematic content early — did little to change the perception.

What are the changes expected to happen once Elon Musk takes over Twitter?

  • Free Speech and Content Moderation: Musk has said that Twitter’s content moderators intervene too much on the platform curbing free speech which is bedrock of Democracy. He has therefore called for Twitter free from content moderation.
  • Introduction of Edit button: Twitter earlier said it is working on an edit button that would allow users to change tweets after they have been posted.
  • Open Source Twitter Algorithm: Algorithm that determines the priority in which tweets get served up to users, can become “open source” or available for the public to view and improve upon. According to Musk, this will help prevent “behind the scenes manipulation” such as fuelling massive foreign propaganda (that Facebook was accused of during 2016 US Presidential Campaign)
  • Making sure users are real: Musk’s solution on the issue of scam bots/ fake accounts is to authenticate “all real humans” or to have accounts overtly linked to other personal identifiers.

What is the criticism of the changes mooted by Elon Musk?

The changes mooted are good in a sense that it will make it less moderated & tries to increase the trust of the public on the platform (by making it open source).

However, there are also certain concerns raised which are as follows

  • It undoes a lot of the work (content moderation techniques) that has been done to combat hate speech and misinformation, that’s going to be a challenge for Twitter.
  • The edit button proposed has a challenge of preventing its abuse, such as changing statements after others have retweeted or endorsed them.
  • The proposal of making algorithm open source grossly oversimplifies how making data public works and that the move raises serious privacy concerns.
  • There are concerns on what Twitter might look like without strong platform moderation. The danger is that unfettered free speech on social media can become very ugly, very quickly.
  • Also, free speech is understood differently by people belonging to different political ideologies. Musk control on platform is akin to pushing his own ideology.
  • It is also ironic considering that Musk had no qualms over the years about using the Twitter to aggressively promote his business interests as well as block and even bully, critics.

Connecting the dots:

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