By now, we all know that Elon Musk purchased Twitter. The world’s richest man successfully struck a deal to buy the social media site for $44 billion after months of publicly toying with the idea. After completing the purchase, he gave a statement with a list of goals for the platform, which he has somewhat already shared with his 93 million Twitter followers.
Musk tweeted: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” and “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”
Now the real question is can Musk actually turn Twitter into a less-moderated space where free expression and free speech thrive while also making it a business that makes more money from subscribers rather than from advertisers?
In a previous tweet, Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist.” But this rhetoric about free speech stands weak in front of Twitter’s history of spreading misinformation faster than real news. Though this is one of the main reasons that prompted Musk to buy the platform, there is a lot of work to be done still.
While Musk has stated that hate speech will be prohibited, he has yet to clarify the gray areas, and it appears that more lax content moderation procedures and policies could lead to an increase in the poisonous behavior that Twitter has been attempting to eradicate for years.
Furthermore, fewer restrictions on speech could hurt Twitter’s economic line. Advertisers may be less willing to pay for posts that may be associated (even loosely) with accounts that contain racism, xenophobia, or misogyny and sexism. Musk has argued for the removal of all ads from Twitter, stating its obvious impact on policy.
Even though Twitter is almost completely reliant on ads to stay afloat, Musk is trying to vouch for a subscription model that is cheaper than it currently is. This could allow for a steady stream of revenue, making the platform more profitable.
While Musk faces numerous challenges, he has previously overcome formidable obstacles with SpaceX and Tesla. He also stated on Twitter that he is willing to listen to his critics: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”
Photo via Twitter