It’s official. Elon Musk is now the proud owner of one of the most powerful social media platforms on these here internets. Now that the deal is closed, the new CEO is becoming accustomed to his new digs in San Francisco, California.
This development has met with elation on the right and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the left. Speculation about how the platform might change is coming from folks on both sides of the political divide.
Elon Musk Acquires Twitter
After six months of “will he or won’t he,” the deal to buy Twitter closed on Thursday at long last. He promptly gave the company’s top leadership their walking papers upon taking over and sent them packing. Hours before the deal was finalized, Musk posted a message to advertisers on Twitter, giving them a glimpse into how the company will operate going forward.
The organization’s employees are still concerned about their jobs as Musk indicated he plans to lay off about 75% of the staff. But folks on the left are more concerned about who and what will be allowed on the platform.
Musk indicated that he intends to put an end to lifetime bans from the site. He stated that he does not believe it is appropriate to prohibit users for life, according to an anonymous source speaking with Bloomberg. This has many on the left terrified at the thought of former President Donald Trump making a triumphant return to Twitter. However, they might not have much to worry about as he responded to the news of the takeover by affirming that he will remain on Truth Social.
On Friday, the new Twitter CEO also said he would be “digging” into shadowbans on his first day at the helm. He made the comment in response to Catturd, a popular conservative personality on the website, who complained about the practice on Thursday.
“As of now, I’m still Shadowbanned, ghost banned, search banned, and Twitter removed 1200 followers today – as usual,” he said.
Shadowbanning refers to a form of censorship that involves preventing a user’s content from being seen without informing them. The company’s leaders claim they do not use this practice, but former Twitter employees, when speaking with Project Veritas, admitted they use the tactic against right-leaning individuals.
Content moderation, the issue about which most are worried, is also on the docket. On Friday, Musk posted a tweet noting that the company “will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints” and that “[n]o major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.
No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
What Does Twitter’s Future Hold?
If Elon Musk is to be believed, Twitter might look different in the coming months. If this council employs a moderation approach that allows for both left- and right-leaning viewpoints, the company might just create an environment in which spirited debate and reasoned dialogue can flourish. Perhaps it will help folks come out of their echo chambers and engage in a healthier manner. Or maybe this notion is more pollyannish than it might seem.
Either way, the new CEO will not see his vision realized without opposition. A popular Washington newspaper posted a tweet on Friday instructing users on how to limit the number of ads they see when they are using the platform. Given that most of the company’s revenue comes from advertising, this appears to be a thinly-veiled effort to stymie Musk’s efforts.
There is also the possibility that progressive types might try to use the government to hamper Twitter’s progress. If Republicans manage to retake one or both chambers of Congress, this might not be easy. But President Joe Biden could have some tricks up his sleeve.
It would not be a surprise if the White House sought to use executive power to threaten the company. The administration has already shown a willingness to use its bully pulpit to pressure Big Tech companies to censor viewpoints on the COVID-19 pandemic that were not Democrat-approved.
With Elon Musk in Twitter’s captain’s chair, the company will be headed in a new direction. But this does not mean the battle is over. Nevertheless, one question now begs for an answer: Are the days of politically motivated censorship at Twitter coming to an end?
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