Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, finalized a deal to buy the social media platform Twitter. The deal, is worth approximately $44 billion and makes Twitter a privately held company by Musk and his financial backers. The general reaction to the deal and Musk’s subsequent quest to buy the platform has been mixed. Either it’s the death of Twitter as a whole or Musk will make the platform better than ever. There are plenty of issues that Twitter has, bots being chief among them. Musk’s biggest issue is with “free speech” issues on the platform after they started putting warning labels and the eventual banning of former President Donald Trump.

Twitter enacted a “poison pill” mechanism to stop Musk from taking control of the company by flooding the market with shares of the company that would dilute the control Musk could have. It remains to be seen whether this will work or keep Musk from full control of the company.

The problem with “free speech” on the platform is that even under the vaunted First Amendment of the US Constitution, it doesn’t protect against hate speech, dangerous speech, or so-called “fighting words”. If you’re using Donald Trump as an example, promoting patently false claims about elections or COVID-19 isn’t protected. The other issue is that Twitter is a private company with the power to do as it pleases with the community on the app/service. The other edge is that Musk, as an owner, can also direct the company to do what they please.

He’s correct that Twitter has an untapped potential for growth and service to humanity.

Getting Rid Of Bots, Open Source, And Other Benefits

Elon Musk is a tremendous showman, no matter what you think of his business practices or personality. He knows how to promote and drive interest. A huge issue with Twitter are bot accounts that retweet, spout, and drive traffic through keywords. If you’ve ever seen an asshole with “Dwight583789817” as a username, it’s almost 100% a bot trying to push something. If Musk sticks to his word, any human would need to be verified on Twitter and bot accounts wouldn’t be a thing. That would be a great boon for the app and for how people interact with one another.

I’m not much of a tech person when it comes to algorithms or programming, but making it known how posts gain traction or “go viral” or even how we see what we see on Twitter would be helpful. TikTok’s algorithm is the most valuable in the entire world for how they get people to see videos. If that was unlocked, it could break the entire platform, but for Twitter, it’d help people to understand and better tailor their experience.

For Twitter shareholders, Musk’s purchase could help their bottom line, but outside of the monetary benefits, Musk could drive more attention toward other social media platforms and commit to removing bots and other unsavory aspects of their platforms.

The Bad And The Ugly Of Elon Musk Owning Twitter

The man is the richest person on planet Earth. He’s the figurehead of Tesla and SpaceX. If you can’t see an issue with one person being the owner of the most influential social media platform on the planet, then you’re blind. Twitter might not have the market value or share of Facebook or Snap, but they still have to answer to shareholders and board members. Generally, people that have floated the free speech argument are the ones that don’t want unsavory or dangerous rhetoric to be held accountable. There’s a big difference between silencing speech and holding people accountable for their speech. If you want to spout hateful speech about groups of people or religions, you’re free to do so. Just don’t be mad when people want to hold you accountable for that speech.

If you’ve seen Back To The Future II, imagine Biff Tannen owning Twitter. Elon Musk might not be exactly like that, but he’s an impulsive person. He’s gotten to where he has in life because of that impulsiveness, but the most influential social media platform shouldn’t be owned and operated by one person. If Twitter is as important to the future of humanity as he says, it would behoove him to take a more community-driven and public-based solution to the app.

It’s likely that Musk does some great things for the platform and this acquisition also ends up being worse for the user. You take the good with the bad. If anything, as we’ve seen with Facebook, Myspace, Zynga, and other platforms, if the user experience goes down, people will flock to something new.

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