What does Musk’s takeover of Twitter mean for the platform?
There are big changes ahead for Twitter and nobody quite knows what to think about it. Here are my initial thoughts:
WHAT ARE PEOPLE CONCERNED ABOUT?
The big thing most people are terrified of is Musk’s priority to ‘reduce censorship’ on Twitter – a platform many feel hasn’t done enough to stop the spread of fake news and misinformation already, not to mention online abuse, often from ‘anonymous’ users.
Musk has described himself as a ‘free speech absolutist’ and he’s been very vocal about his view that content should not be moderated at all. This is worrying for many, not just human rights activists.
Does freedom of speech mean anyone can say anything unchallenged? That people can be bullied and abused online with no way of protecting themselves apart from leaving the platform?
For me, free speech is one thing, but so is power imbalance. We already have examples of individuals who hold or held large sway with their followers. Musk suggests his ideology is about democracy, but arguably, an unmoderated platform gives a huge amount of power to a top-tier of users… so isn’t it really about power and who had a share of voice?
In a thread on Twitter itself, Amnesty International said: ‘We are concerned with any steps that Twitter might take to erode enforcement of the policies and mechanisms designed to protect users. The last thing we need is a Twitter that wilfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech against users, particularly those most disproportionately impacted, including women, non-binary persons, and others.’
The other burning question? Will Trump now return the platform and be given free reign again?
WHAT ARE PEOPLE HAPPY ABOUT?
The reality is, nobody yet really has ANY idea what Twitter will look like under Musk’s leadership, but having spent £34.5billion, much of it from his own pocket, he clearly has BIG plans.
I am nervous for it – Twitter is my favourite platform but it can already descend into a hellish, angry landscape if you drift into the wrong threat or hashtags – or if you simply comment in the wrong place. What it will be like with even less moderation makes me shudder.
A lot of people are already threatening to leave but we all know that in reality, this mass exoduses generally fails to manifest.. and in all honesty, I can’t pretend I’m not a little excited to see what changes Musk will make, alongside my (many) concerns.
So for me, the Jury is out and time will tell. It always does.