Twitter’s current tweet limit may be 280 characters, but it has added one of the greatest to its fold: Elon Musk.

On Monday, the company announced in a press release that it had accepted Musk’s takeover offer, which is valued at around $44 billion. “Free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where issues vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating spambots and authenticating all humans. Twitter has huge potential – I can’t wait to work with the company and the user community to unlock it.”

With the move, Musk – who manages a portfolio of companies including Tesla and Space X – would take Twitter privately by the end of 2022. The sale is not without controversy or consternation given the billionaire’s track record. ranging from brilliant to crazy. In the past, his own tweets have drawn criticism and wreaked havoc. In 2021, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board ordered him to remove a previous union-busting tweet he posted (Tesla appealed the decision), and in 2018 he settled a securities fraud charge. brought against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission. , who said in his complaint that Musk’s tweets of August 7 of the same year “resulted in a significant disruption of the market”.

Elon Musk

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images Elon Musk

So what can we expect from the social media platform once it’s under Musk’s control? Here are some things based on what he has said in the past:

No more permanent Twitter bans?

Musk, including in his statement regarding the purchase of Twitter, spoke out in favor of free speech. But how free speech plays out in society continues to be a difficult space to navigate. At best, everyone is entitled to their voice and opinion, which is especially important for people who are oppressed, disenfranchised or underrepresented. But when you add things like hate speech, etc., it gets… complicated.

Currently, there are people like former President Donald Trump who are permanently banned from Twitter, as well as other platforms. (Twitter’s permanent ban list also includes the likes of David Duke and Alex Jones).

But will this ban be something Musk will continue? Maybe not – and maybe.

In a recent TED2022 talk recorded on April 14, he appeared to make room for Twitter, “is bound by the laws of the country in which it operates. So there are certain limitations on free speech in the United States and of course Twitter should abide by these rules.”

In the same conversation, he added that he favors “timeouts”:

“I’m not saying I have all the answers here,” he added. “I think we want to be very reluctant to remove things…just be very careful with permanent bans. I think timeouts are better than some permanent bans. In general, like I said, it won’t be perfect, but we really want to have an obsession and the reality that speech is as free as reasonably possible A good sign to know when there’s free speech is when someone you don’t like is allowed to say anything you don’t like.

Bring the Biebs back?

In the lead up to the sale, Musk (understandably) took to Twitter with some of his recent observations on the platform. One of those thoughts was about the list of best follower accounts.

The top ten included Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, who — as Musk pointed out — aren’t very active on the platform. A sign that led him to wonder: “Is Twitter dying?”

It remains to be seen whether some of the potential changes — like the ability to edit tweets (which is a feature Musk is expected to come with a time limit), eliminating bots, and user authentication — can reduce user engagement. But his appeals to Swift and Bieber show Musk’s intention to reinvigorate the mayoral philosophy of the platform and be the place for conversation.

On Twitter, do we, uh, trust?

In Musk’s TED Talk with Chris Anderson, he mentioned that “having a broadly inclusive, maximum-trust public platform is extremely important for the future of civilization. »

This concept of trust naturally extends to information. On April 9, he shared a table summarizing some findings from a recent The Economist/ YouGov poll on trust in select organizations including The Weather Channel, CNN, Fox News, The GuardianReuters and NPR, among others.

“Truth is the first casualty,” Musk wrote. As part of his first batch of ideas, he cited opening up the algorithm so that there is more transparency regarding the platform, including more information about what is being promoted and demoted.

While its stated intention is noble, it has been somewhat measured as to the unpaved path it will take to get there. As he told Anderson, “I think the civilizational risk goes down as we increase trust in Twitter as a public platform. And so I think that would be somewhat painful. I’m not sure that I could actually acquire it.”

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