During the first few months of 2022, billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk quietly spent over $2.6 billion buying up Twitter stock.
As a result, he now owns over 9% of the company’s stock — but he’s trying to buy the other 91% as well. Last week he offered up another $43 billion for the company’s remaining shares.
Though Twitter’s board of directors has rebuffed Musk’s less-than-friendly takeover bid with a “poison pill” defense, Musk could very well still end up in complete control of his favorite social media platform. He has promised to “make significant improvements” to the platform should that be the case.
So, what exactly does Musk intend to do at Twitter?
While we may not know his specific intentions just yet, Musk has been no stranger to voicing his thoughts on how to change Twitter. Here are four changes we expect Musk to make if he succeeds in buying the company, based on his past tweets.
1. Loosening content moderation
Musk has repeatedly referred to Twitter as “the de factor public town square” of the modern era — the digital equivalent of a public forum.
To that end, he’s been critical of Twitter’s decision to permanently ban former President Donald Trump from the site, following the insurrection at the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
“A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech,” Musk tweeted in response to the Christian conservative satire publication The Babylon Bee, after it shared a satirical news article on January 11, 2021 titled, “Evil Fascist Dictator Censored and Voted Out of Office.”
Based on Musk’s tweets, it sounds like he’ll push for looser moderation at Twitter.
He demonstrated the sentiment at least once in recent weeks: At his satellite internet startup, Starlink, he refused requests “by some governments (not Ukraine)” to block news broadcasts from Russia.
“We will not do so unless at gunpoint,” he said. “Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”
2. Algorithm changes
Another point Musk has raised in the past involves Twitter’s role in shaping society. He polled his followers last month on whether they think Twitter’s algorithm should be “open source” — a term for software that’s distributed freely and able to be manipulated openly by many different contributors.
It may sound technical, but the idea is tied to his feelings on free speech.
“I’m worried about de facto bias in ‘the Twitter algorithm’ having a major effect on public discourse,” Musk said to one follower. “How do we know what’s really happening?”
3. Removing spam bots
Some of Musk’s anticipated proposals speak more to his personal use of Twitter than anything else. For example, he’s previously stated he wants to get rid of “crypto spam bots” — spam accounts promoting what appear to be crypto-based scams, which often use Musk’s Twitter likeness.
Musk has called the spam problem on Twitter the “single most annoying problem” with using the service. He’s even publicly pleaded with Twitter to do something about the issue. “How long must this go on?” he asked in February.
In an April 14 interview at TED 2022, Musk cited this issue as the first thing he would change as Twitter’s new owner. “A top priority I would have is eliminating the spam and scam bots, and the bot armies that are on Twitter,” he said. “They make the product much worse.”
4. Adding an edit button
Musk is in favor of the edit button that Twitter users have been requesting for years.
He’s supported the long-running hope that Twitter will some day add an edit function to its service so that users are able to fix, at very least, basic spelling errors or mistaken links immediately after posting. His 80 million-plus followers overwhelmingly supported adding the function in a poll he ran last month.
Notably, Twitter said recently that it’s been working on the functionality for some time.
By Ben Gilbert | Business Insider