Elon Musk Acquires Twitter, Vows To Defeat Bots And Bring Back Free Speech

Source: Kristen Radke, The Verge

After a long week of going back and forth, Elon Musk finally got Twitter to agree to a deal at a whopping USD44 billion. Twitter accepted his offer and closed the deal on April 25. This effectively makes Twitter a private company.

He promises to make Twitter better by making the algorithms open source and defeating spam bots. However, Elon, who considers himself as a “free speech absolutist”, also intends to bring back free speech on the platform.

This is a cause for concern, as various groups have brought up the issue of unregulated free speech on the platform. According to Reuters, political activists expect that a Musk regime would mean less regulation of hate speech or misinformation and even reinstatement of banned people like Donald Trump.

Not many details have been disclosed by Elon, but according to sources, he will be involved in strategic decisions including the direction of Twitter’s Bluesky project and the addition of an edit button.

The Bluesky project is Twitter’s former CEO, Jack Dorsey’s attempt at decentralizing social media. 

It is not clear whether Elon will become the CEO but current CEO, Parag Agrawal is rumored to receive USD42 million if Parag is terminated after the deal.

Netizens have had mixed reactions to the Elon Musk takeover. There are those who are for it, saying that it’s a big win for free speech.

There are those who said that the move to have an open source algorithm will set a new standard of transparency for other social media platforms.

Then there are those that are not happy with the takeover, fearing that misinformation and people who like to propagate such things will be reinstated.

Their fears are not unfounded as such tweets start to flow in.

Some called him out for the irony of his statement.

Now this is food for thought. With “absolute free speech”, it could mean chaos.

According to Straits Times, Elon Musk will not have a say on Twitter’s moderation, what speech gets banned or reinstating banned accounts. It is a policy that applies to all board members.

Amidst the chaos about possible hate speech and misinformation being spread under the guise of free speech, the most important point of Musk’s takeover is his determination to defeat the spam bots and the open source algorithm. An open source algorithm will make public Twitter’s code which is used to determine what tweets to promote or hide from users accounts. 

This also means that the role of computer programs in regulating and policing content on social media platforms will be made transparent. It is a welcome change especially since the new EU legislation, Digital Services Act (DSA), now requires major platforms like Google and Meta to explain their algorithms.

The act will push tech companies to take greater responsibility for the content that appears on their platforms. It includes swift removal of illegal goods and content, explaining how their algorithm works to users and researchers and curbing the spread of misinformation.

If the open source algorithm for Twitter becomes a reality, it will be a game changer as other social media giants may be pushed to be transparent with their codes worldwide, not just limited to regions where they are required to do so by law.

Reporter’s Opinions: Elon Musk is the biggest troll around but his trolling needs to be taken seriously as this man has money, connections, and he will do what he says.

While it’s comforting to know that he won’t have a say in reinstating banned accounts, Elon’s idea of absolute free speech is concerning. It will be absolute chaos as extremist content will not be censored in the guise of educating the public. Yes, it helps for people to be aware of such content but it also means these groups will be able to recruit more to their cause. It is a double edged sword.

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Eradicating the spam bots and open source algorithm is a welcome change. The bots are the most annoying on Twitter and open source means giants like Meta will be forced to take more responsibility for their unregulated content.

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In 2017, Facebook got into hot soup for livestreaming a murder on their platform. They claimed that it took an hour for the video to be flagged and that caused the delay for the video to be taken down. That wasn’t the only incident. Run a search on Google about Facebook murders livestreams and you will get more.

The Social Dilemma exposed the social media giants for using data to nurture addiction, manipulate people’s views and emotions, and spreading misinformation. It discussed how these giants caused problematic social, political and cultural consequences.

Perhaps an open algorithm can help change that?

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Belalang Biru

Written by Belalang Biru

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