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Five ways Twitter could change under Elon Musk

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Twitter was subject to a hostile takeover bid from billionaire Elon Musk, who hopes by turning it private he can remake it into the platform he wants (Getty Images)
Twitter was subject to a hostile takeover bid from billionaire Elon Musk, who hopes by turning it private he can remake it into the platform he wants (Getty Images)

Elon Musk is already the head of the world’s most valuable car maker, the boss of a private space firm wanting to colonise Mars, the founder and head of a pioneering brain-computer interface company that hopes to make people superhuman, and the CEO of a tunnel-digging startup that plans to one day eliminate traffic.

So why does he want to take over Twitter?

The world’s richest person has given several hints about his intentions for the social media giant in recent months. Here’s five ways it might change:

1. Make Twitter’s algorithm open source

Musk is a champion of the open source movement, having previously made all of Tesla’s patents available “anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology”. The aim of this was to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport solutions.

More recently, he has spoken about making Twitter’s underlying software open source, making the algorithm more transparent and theoretically less prone to manipulation.

“I’m worried about de facto bias in ‘the Twitter algorithm’ having a major effect on public discourse,” Musk tweeted last month. “How do we know what’s really happening?”

He added: “The algorithm needs to be open source.”

2. Eliminate cryptocurrency scams

As Twitter’s eighth most popular user, and prominent advocate of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Musk himself has been plagued by this issue.

He described it as the “single most annoying problem” with Twitter.

3. Go to war with bots

Speaking earlier this month at the TED 2022 conference, Musk said he would not just crack down on crypto scammers, but “spam and scam bots” generally.

“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.”

He later tweeted: “If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!”

4. Reinstate Donald Trump?

Mr Musk’s attitude to free speech is shared by the likes of Donald Trump and a number of other right-wing political figures who have had their accounts suspended for violating Twitter content rules but claim they have been the victims of censorship.

Some believe a Musk takeover could mean a return to the platform for Mr Trump and others, but reinstating those users would be a highly controversial move and could bring further scrutiny to the company and its approach to moderation, just as major new regulation for the sector is on the horizon.

It has been suggested that in an age of increasingly polarised discourse online and intense scrutiny from legislators over social media needing to do more to protect users from harmful content while avoiding outright censorship, a change of Twitter policy instigated by Musk to loosen rules around speech on the site could create more problems for the company.

5. Introduce an edit button

In a poll posted on 5 April, Musk asked his Twitter followers whether they wanted an edit button.

The majority of more than 4 million respondents said yes.

Additional reporting from agencies.

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