Following a sudden U-turn, Elon Musk is now in a position to take over the social media platform, which may soon see several technological and operational changes. Just before he decided to join the board of directors in April, Musk texted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, saying,
I have a ton of ideas. I simply want Twitter to be the best it can be.
To avoid a legal confrontation with the business over the deal he had previously been attempting to back out of, Musk revived his offer to purchase the firm this week.
The Tesla CEO has openly suggested several changes he would make to the site if the deal passes, including easing content moderation restrictions, returning blocked accounts, and adding an edit feature.
Moreover, a fascinating collection of text conversations between Musk and his business associates, which were made available last week in a court filing, provide us with a deeper look at how he can monetize and overhaul the platform.
Before the deal can be finalized, there are various obstacles to be addressed. The parties are unable to agree on finance arrangements and Twitter must still accept Musk’s $44 billion buyout bid.
A Delaware Chancery judge decided on Thursday that fresh trial dates will be set for November if the transaction isn’t completed by 5 p.m. on October 28. This decision followed Musk’s request to have the case dropped and Twitter’s objection.
However, analysts warn that if the deal is accepted, Musk’s focus on unrestricted free expression may bring additional challenges.
If this is the case, it may have major implications for the online community only weeks before the U.S. midterm elections.
According to Angelo Carusone, president and CEO of Media Matters, a non-profit media watchdog,
no one’s ready for the type of onslaught that’s going to come. We recognize the individuals with whom he has been talking, and we can see all the warning signs—this is a genuine threat.
Here are some possible changes to Twitter under Musk.
1. Current leadership might be fired
It’s expected that Musk will start by making changes at Twitter, starting with CEO Agrawal, who took over as CEO last year after co-founder Jack Dorsey resigned. Even though the two had originally wanted to collaborate, text messages between Musk and his business associates show how dissatisfied he was with Agrawal’s leadership.
On April 9, Agrawal warned Musk that his habit of tweeting negative things like “Is Twitter dying?” was “not helping me make Twitter better.”
What did you accomplish this week? Musk responded, who at the time was debating whether to join the board of directors at Twitter. He said, “This is a waste of time, and I’ll make an offer to buy the company instead.”
Carusone says that given their complicated relationship, Agrawal may be dismissed on Musk’s first day of ownership and most likely replaced by one of Musk’s allies. Musk texted Twitter board chair Bret Taylor, saying, “Fixing Twitter by chatting with Parag won’t work.”
Musk has also shown his displeasure with other Twitter officials, posting a meme that painted the company’s senior attorney Vijaya Gadde as a symbol of “Twitter’s left-wing prejudice.”
2. Donald Trump’ and other accounts that have been suspended could be recovered
After the tragic Jan. 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump was permanently barred from Twitter, and Musk has declared for months that his top priorities would be to protect free expression there and to allow him access again.
Carusone predicts that Musk will promptly restore his account “the second he gets the keys.” Trump started his own social media network, TRUTH Social, earlier this year, so it’s uncertain if he will ultimately return to Twitter if invited.
Analysts claim that other suspended individuals, notably right-wing voices prohibited from disseminating conspiracy theories or hate speech, may also be given new platforms. In an earlier text conversation with Agrawal, Musk stated that he wants to lift all Twitter restrictions permanently, “except spam accounts and those who actively encourage violence.”
This suggests that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal Twitter account was suspended this year for regularly disseminating false information on the COVID-19 vaccine, would be permitted to resume posting. This implies that The Babylon Bee, a conservative satire website that was denied access to Twitter after publishing a bit of transphobic humor, may regain access.
“Are you going to free Twitter from the censorship-obsessed mob?” Before making a pitch to acquire Twitter, the controversial podcast host Joe Rogan texted Elon Musk the day his investment in the company became public.
“I will offer recommendations, which they may or may not take,” Musk said. (Musk’s latest proposal would make the company private.)
3. There could be a new edit button added
As many people had been seeking for years, Musk recently indicated an interest in allowing users to modify their tweets. In a survey he conducted in March, around 74% of his Twitter followers stated they were in favor of including the edit function.
The text exchanges published included one from Gayle King, co-host of CBS This Morning, in which she informed Musk that she agreed with the concept of an edit button.
After initially opposing the idea, Twitter started testing the edit button last month, allowing early access to Twitter Blue subscribers in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Twitter stated that the service will be available to US members shortly, although Musk may speed up the process once in control.
To prevent individuals from changing the original content of their tweets too frequently, users with early access to the feature can only change their tweets a maximum of five times at a time. However, there are still worries that if users were to change their popular tweets to messages with malignant feelings, the editing capability might be exploited with malice to propagate misinformation or harmful messages.
4. Musk could try to revamp Twitter Blue and get rid of spam bots
Unsurprisingly, Musk highlighted spam bots—or fake accounts—on the site as his primary justification for pulling out of the initial agreement, and he is anticipated to take action on them. It’s unclear what Musk may have had in mind, but the notion of a Twitter future powered by blockchain in which users must pay a small fee to send messages appealed to Musk at first since bots couldn’t get around the barrier.
Later, he said that this plan will fail because “a peer-to-peer network cannot satisfy the bandwidth and latency requirements.”
According to a data analysis by Scottish digital skills college CodeClan, Musk would lose an estimated 13.5 million followers if he did implement a plan to delete the majority of bot accounts on Twitter.
Additionally, Musk has been quite critical of Twitter Blue, the company’s membership service that costs $4.99 per month and includes perks like bookmark folders and ad-free content. One of Musk’s Twitter strategic advisors, entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, texted him to remark that Twitter Blue is “insane” and “spent a year creating Twitter Blue to give people exactly…Nothing they want!”
5. He may develop a brand-new “everything app” named “X”
After purchasing Twitter, Musk revealed this week that he intends to build a new program named “X.” This app might be an all-in-one mega app based on China’s WeChat, which is sometimes described as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Paypal bundled into one main site.
He tweeted on Tuesday, “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to producing X, the everything app,” and later added that “the acquisition may reduce the app’s development time by 3 to 5 years.”
It’s unclear what Musk has in mind, but he has frequently emphasized the desire for Twitter to expand beyond tweets to rival WeChat in terms of popularity.
At a town hall meeting with Twitter employees in June, the multibillionaire businessman stated,
I believe an essential aim for Twitter would be to try to involve as much of the country, as much of the world, as feasible. Because WeChat is so functional and useful for day-to-day living, you live on WeChat in China. I think if we can reach that, or even get close to that at Twitter, it would be an amazing success.
Musk already has some expertise with payment systems, which may be useful for developing a super app that has that feature. He co-founded one of the first online payment systems, PayPal, which he had originally named X.com, and which has since gained universal praise.
6. Employees might quit
According to Robert McCann, an adjunct professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, the trust in Musk has been significantly damaged by his very public criticism of Twitter and its executives as well as his choice to cancel the agreement. He said in July that it had “seriously impacted staff morale at Twitter, spooked advertisers, and I think the fundamental issue is that it has generated a feeling of confusion.”
According to an Insider story, some staff may decide to leave after Musk assumes leadership and others have already started to leave. According to a Platformer article, the company’s morale was poor after Musk reiterated his offer to purchase the company earlier this week.
Questions about Musk’s demanding schedule and management style may also hinder his ability to accomplish what he has promised to supervise at Twitter in terms of technological and operational reforms. Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and The Boring Company are just a few of the companies that Musk is now in charge of running daily. Even the most experienced Fortune 500 CEOs would struggle to manage just one company.
According to Eric Pliner, CEO of management consulting firm YSC Consulting and author of “Difficult Decisions,”
there’s a reason that in a universe of tremendously bright, highly ambitious people who are CEOs of firms, rarely do any of them try to lead more than one at a time. Any organization’s leadership must be focused. It involves both the capacity to lead others and the clarity of purpose. It is difficult, if not impossible, for one person to try to divide his attention among so many distinct endeavors.
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