Elon Musk’s Takeover on Twitter: Users Are Leaving the Platform as Tesla CEO Takes Over

It’s been a week since Elon Musk walked into Twitter’s headquarters with the kitchen sink in hand, signaling his official takeover of the company. Having had time to let the news of his US$ 44 billion (roughly Rs. 3.6 lakh crore) purchase “sink in”, Twitter users are now wondering what he will do with the platform.

What will Musk do with Twitter? After months of trying to walk away from its commitment to buy the platform, and just before entering what looked to be a long, potentially embarrassing and expensive court battle to enforce its original deal, Twitter is now privately held.

If we go through some quick media research, we see Musk has paid too much money for a platform that has not yet achieved its business potential for investors, or its social potential for users.

This probably explains some of his first moves since taking over, such as planning to charge users US$8 (roughly Rs. 700) for the blue token, and threatening to fire part of Twitter’s workforce.

He has already fired former CEO Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal, head of legal Vijaya Gadde and general counsel Sean Edgett.

Will Twitter turn into (more of) a barrel fire?

Musk’s intentions were perhaps best expressed by his first tweet after buying the platform: “the bird is released”.

Before the purchase, one of his oft-tweeted criticisms was that there were too many restrictions on “free speech”, and moderation would need to be restructured to unlock Twitter’s potential as a “public town square”.

There’s no doubt that Musk is great at effective social media statements, but we’re yet to see any real changes made to content moderation — let alone Musk’s overall vision for the digital city square.

The “main tweet” suggested the future appointment of a “very diverse content moderation council” that would be charged with making decisions about checking and restoring accounts.

This is not a new idea.

Meta has called for such an oversight board since 2018, made up of former political leaders, human rights activists, academics and journalists. The board oversees content decisions and has been known to oppose CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decisions, especially his “permanent” Facebook suspension of former US president Donald Trump after the US Capitol riots.

It’s unclear if the council will meet to discuss Musk’s proposal to “reverse the permanent ban” on Trump’s Twitter, or if Musk would allow the board to overrule his decisions.

Still, Musk’s proposal for a moderation board is a step back from his self-described “free speech” views on content moderation.

Many were concerned that his moderate approach could fuel hate speech on Twitter.

In the past week, coordinated troll accounts have tried to test the limits of Musk-run Twitter by flooding the platform with racial slurs. According to the US-based National Contagion Research Institute, the use of the N-word increased by more than 500 percent on October 28. However, the head of safety and integrity at Twitter, Yoel Roth, said that many offensive tweets they appear. a small number of accounts.

Another study by researchers at Montclair State University found a significant increase in hate speech in the lead up to Musk’s hiring.

Both Roth and Musk confirmed, “Twitter’s policies have not changed”. The “hateful conduct” rules remain the same.

Musk remains a loose cannon Perhaps more concerning than the troll reaction is Musk’s decision to tweet and dispel a conspiracy theory about US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi. We can dismiss this as Musk’s penchant for sh-tposting, but if the right to post disinformation and personal attacks is the kind of speech he wants to protect, it’s worth asking what kind of public scene he sees.

Musk takes a technical approach to social issues arising from our use of online communication tools. It means free access to technology, liberating the “free speech” of its cultural and social context, and making it readily and easily available to everyone.

This is usually not the case. This is why we need to balance the content and protection of the vulnerable and marginalized.

Another question is whether we want billionaires to have a direct influence on our public sphere. If so, how do we ensure transparency, and that the interests of users are protected? In a particularly negative takeover report, Musk this week directed Twitter to realize more than $1 billion in annual infrastructure cost savings, allegedly through reductions in cloud services and server space. This reduction could put Twitter at risk of slowing down during high traffic times, such as election periods.

This may be where Musk’s digital city square vision fails. If Twitter is to become such a space, the infrastructure that supports it must hold up to the most important times.

Where can you go if you’re sick of Twitter?

Although so far there are no signs of mass exodus from Twitter, a number of users are flocking elsewhere. Not long after Musk found Twitter, #TwitterMigration started trending. In the past week, the small blogging platform Mastodon has reportedly gained tens of thousands of followers.

Mastodon is built on private, user-controlled servers. Each server is owned, operated and monitored by its own community and can be made private. The downside is that servers cost money to run and if the server goes down, all content can be lost.

Twitter abusers have also moved to sites like Reddit, Tumblr, CounterSocial, LinkedIn and Discord.

Of course, many will be waiting to see what Twitter founder Jack Dorsey comes up with. While Dorsey was involved with Twitter, he launched an official social media platform, Bluesky Social, which is now in beta testing.

Bluesky aims to provide an open communication protocol. This means that it will allow many social media networks to communicate using an open standard.

If this test is successful, it could be more than a competitor on Twitter. This would mean that users can easily switch services and take their content to other providers.

It would be a completely new user-centered model of social interaction. And it may force traditional platforms to rethink their current data collection and advertising targeting practices. That might be a field takeover worth waiting for.

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