Twitter and Elon Musk have sealed the deal for his $44 million purchase of Twitter. Many are wondering what the future holds in terms of content. Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company – with Musk making the rules, yet with little changing in the way of regulation from Washington.
Musk stated Monday that free speech was the foundation of any functioning democracy. He also said Twitter “is the digital town square in which matters crucial to the future for humanity are discussed.” I also hope to improve Twitter by adding new features and making algorithms more open-source to boost trust. Also, to defeat spambots and authenticate all people, Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
There were many experts who offered an assessment on the possibilities.
Will Rinehart of The Center for Growth and Opportunity suggested that the “about face” via Twitter was very telling. The board started to consider Musk’s offer after he secured funding to the tune almost $47 billion. Musk managed to put together the package within a week. This shows how keen there is for a change at Twitter. However, it shows how vulnerable Twitter can be to an incoming competitor. Twitter and other tech firms are not as invulnerable as they seem.
Jessica Melugin from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is the director of the Center for Technology and Innovation. She stated that this deal would either resolve all freedom of speech issues or make the platform “an unusable hellscape of objectionable material.”
Melugin explained that while it’s impossible to know what Musk will do, or to what extent, it is clear his efforts outweigh the government-imposed regulatory solutions. Musk will make changes that are superior to the government regulations because they won’t be made on every platform. The new policies Musk has made to Twitter make it better, and the users are happier. Musk can make bad decisions but they are not applicable to Twitter. However, social media users are far more vulnerable to adverse outcomes if government content moderation regulations cover all or most of the largest platforms. It’s better to have many laboratories trying out different approaches to content moderation issues than to try one solution that works for everyone.
Some people suggest that it won’t make everyone happy, but rather will create an equal playing field.
Tom Garrubba (Vice President of Shared Assessments cybersecurity research group) stated that Twitter, as well as other prominent tech platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest have engaged in shadow-banning and censoring people and groups who disagree with their ideology for many years.
Their claims that they did such varied from the cry of “saving democracy” to fake news or reports from foreign interference. This has raised collective eyebrows for quite some while. Garrubba said that this has been noted by everyone, except those who are unwilling to see beyond the D.C. Beltway and large metropolitan coastal areas. “Funnily enough, these same beltway broadcasters and tech giants who have trumpeted their dismay for Elon Musk – who is a huge free speech advocate – in taking over such a prominent information conduit as Twitter, had little to no rebuke when Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, purchased the Washington Post. This is because these tech companies have dramatically increased the market size. Therefore, ideologies should be avoided in the decision making process about what and who can say it.”
Ron Bradley (Vice President, Shared Assessments) also stated, “With humans being the weakest links in the cybersecurity chain,” that he applauded the initiative to increase authentication on Twitter. This is a critical step that will have a significant impact on spambots and other forms of falsified information.