Elon Musk: What will happen to Twitter now?
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Billionaire Tesla owner Mr Musk secured a deal with Twitter on Monday, April 25, to buy the social media site for $54.20 a share — valuing the firm at roughly $44 billion ( £35 billion). Since Mr Musk first expressed interest in taking over the social network, there has been wide speculation over what he will do with it, from making it a subscription service to removing content moderation or getting rid of adverts. However, James Bore, a tech and security expert and director of Bores Group LTD. told Express.co.uk that it is “extremely unlikely” that Mr Musk will make any major changes to the site. He said: “I find it extremely unlikely Musk will make any dramatic changes to Twitter. With the size of the organisation, even if he is the sole shareholder companies have a lot of inertia and there will not be any overnight changes.
“The most likely thing I can see is an increase in profiling and advertising to increase the profitability at the expense of user privacy. And a lot of noise about free speech which doesn’t lead to any real changes as the system is simply too complex to do more than minor tweaks.” Mr Bore added that he believes that the reaction that Musk’s takeover has received is just a “storm in a teacup”. He said: “There’s been a lot of noise and fuss from some loud voices, with promises of boycotts and promises of support from various individuals depending on their views of Musk, but unless anything truly dramatic happens within the next month I’m expecting things to settle back down to normal by July/August.” Mr Musk, who describes himself as a “free-speech absolutist” claimed when announcing his acquisition of Twitter: “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.”
This has caused some people to worry that the SpaceX CEO could remove all content moderation from Twitter, meaning it could be used by criminals to incite violence. However, Mr Bore said that this is something which already happens. He said: “Content moderation is a real challenge to do effectively at any sort of scale, and no large social media platform has cracked that problem yet (I’m not even sure it’s solvable).” However, he added that people who fear moderation may become braver now that Mr Musk is in control.
He said: ”What it might mean is people who feared moderation could be emboldened, so there may be an increase, but we really shouldn’t pretend that extremist content and incitements to violence don’t appear on Twitter already – it’s just that the majority of members don’t see it as they aren’t connected to those circles.”
Following Mr Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, celebrities such as actor and tv presenter Jameela Jamil, decided to leave the platform in protest.
In her final tweet, Ms Jamil said: “Ah he got twitter. I would like this to be my last tweet.
“I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny. Best of luck.”
Moreover, high profile accounts saw their follower count plunge after the announcement of Mr Musk’s takeover.
Former US President Barack Obama – the most followed user on Twitter- lost 300,000 followers on the day of the announcement.
Katy Perry, the third most followed user, lost 200,000.
However, despite this, Mr Bore does not believe that there will be a mass exodus from Twitter.
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He said: “We’ve seen similar threats of mass exoduses before with other platforms – I’d wonder how many readers remember the ‘mass boycott’ of Facebook following the WhatsApp issues, or their purchase of Instagram, or the various repeated privacy issues, or the damage to democracy? A number of high profile personalities will publicly leave, others will state that they’re staying and supporting Musk, and ultimately the total number of members will change very little.”
He added that a mass exodus will likely only occur if a “viable” alternative is created, as current alternatives are “too niche” or “too hard to use in comparison”.
He said: “I’m not going to say it’s impossible that this time next year Twitter will be on the scrapheap of internet history along with MySpace, Friendster, Google+, Clubhouse and too many others to name, it would just take a bit of a miracle and a lot of hard work.”
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