Twitter’s board of directors has finally decided to sell the company to Elon Musk, the richest man in the world and CEO of Tesla, in an operation valued at 44,000 million dollars (about 41,000 million euros). On Twitter, the network of conversation, the personality of the new owner has provoked a huge debate and several global trends. There are those who believe that Musk will take the company to new goals, there are those who think that the only alternative is to flee Twitter forever and there are few who do not speak out.
But the future is likely to be somewhat milder.
Musk’s own speech about Twitter is that he buys it to improve it, not for money or influence. The most concrete analysis of his purchase was made on April 14, in a TED talk, the same day your offer was made public. His thesis is that Twitter needs more clarity in the rules, more transparency in the algorithms and more freedom in speech. The details he offered, however, were scant.
His ultimate intention, always according to his words, is to save democracy: “It is very important that there is an inclusive scenario for freedom of expression,” he said. “Twitter has become a kind of public square de facto, so it’s really important that people believe and perceive that they can speak freely within the confines of the law,” he explained. This resource is indispensable both for “the functioning of democracy in the United States and in many other countries,” she added.
For less doubt and more transparency, the Twitter algorithm should be posted on GitHub, the open source platform, and other programmers should be able to make comments and suggestions, “as is the case with Linux and Signal,” Musk recommended. Users must also be perfectly aware of why decisions are made: any action on why a tweet is promoted or not “must be evident, so that there is no behind-the-scenes manipulation, be it algorithmic or manual,” explained the new owner. from Twitter.
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
On freedom of expression, he admitted to being “absolutist” and said that shouting “fire” in a full theater “should be a crime.” The South African billionaire tried to contribute his vision of the debate around the limits of freedom of expression with this sentence: “A good sign of freedom of expression is that someone you don’t like can say something you don’t like. If that is so, we have free speech,” he said.
After these statements, several journalists have highlighted Musk’s contradictions in this matter, recalling numerous examples in which the businessman tried to silence or limit the speech of someone he did not like, such as when called a submariner a “pedophile” from a Thai cave, when he chased and spied on a former employee for speaking to the press or when he blocked an account of a young man from Florida who was posting all of Musk’s flights on Twitter.
No clue if Musk will make Twitter worse, but anyone who believes Musk cares about protecting speech please hmu I have some exciting bridges I’d like to sell you! pic.twitter.com/p7XfnOhOYE
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) April 25, 2022
And at this point, it is when the real debate arises about what it means that the richest person in the world can do what they want with one of the most powerful communication platforms. This purchase is not Jeff Bezos acquiring the Washington Post or Rupert Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal. When Musk himself was asked what he thought of the richest person buying Twitter, his response was to laugh at Mark Zuckerberg: “He has Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp with a structure that would allow Mark Zuckerberg XIV to remain the owner. That won’t happen with Twitter,” he said.
Before assessing how he would carry out the acquisition, he said that he was not doing it for money: “My intuition is that having a platform that is trusted by all, inclusive, is extremely important for the future of civilization. I don’t care about the money,” she assured. One thing is that he doesn’t care about money and the other is that he doesn’t perceive ways to exploit the benefits of Twitter, in addition to controlling a tool that has given him a lot of revenue. His tweets about Tesla, SpaceX and even dogecoin cryptocurrency They have made him richer.
Permanent access to such a platform, and maintaining its influence, is essential. Few understand the importance of grabbing attention like Musk. Twitter has ten times fewer users than Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, but its weight is not proportionally lower.
In the TED talk. Musk also addressed permanent profile bans on Twitter: “I don’t know if I have all the answers, but I think it would be better to be reluctant to delete things and be cautious about permanent bans. I think temporary suspensions are better than permanent bans.” The most famous suspension from Twitter is donald trump. His hypothetical return to Twitter in 2022 would be to prepare and project to the world his possible candidacy for president in 2024. In fact, in the Republican Party they see Musk’s arrival on Twitter with good eyes.
It is likely that the owner of Tesla will return control of his account to Trump, as a sign of freedom of expression, but in that case it is clear that he would be doing the Republican a favor, that the hypothetical future president of the United States could return with his power. in Washington in favor of Tesla, SpaceX or relieving him of his problems with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As with Trump, other governments could aspire to use Twitter more freely or without labels as “state media.” If it’s something, like in China, that could harm Tesla’s interests, the conflict of interest would be obvious. Suspicions about Twitter’s decisions will be pinned on Musk, for better and for worse. It is likely that he already has it well thought out.
In his talk, Musk said that he will not edit “tweets personally” to explain why a tweet does or does not comply with the laws of a country, which is the criteria that was imposed. But it will be difficult to doubt that the relevant decisions do not pass through his hands.
Within Twitter, a company accustomed to public disturbances, the atmosphere was of higher tension than on other occasions. Aside from all the public debate about Musk, one of his well-earned fame is pushing his companies toward excellence in exchange for ironclad business organization. The legend of him about how he slept in the Tesla plant in the most difficult days of the company is famous. At Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, the shock can be especially noticeable.
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