Ever since the news came that Elon Musk is investing heavily in Twitter, first by buying a large number of shares and then by a hostile takeover bid worth $ 43.4 billion, speculation has surfaced about his plans for an influential social platform. media – or indeed, if there are clear plans at all.

$ 43.4 billion is a huge amount to pay a $ 5 billion company that earns only about $ 5 billion a year (Facebook makes 20 times that amount), and while part of that amount comes from his personal fortune, about half will be granted by investment banks that will want to see a return – even if Musk can see the value of Twitter as an advertising machine more important than its financial return. Musk also said Twitter should not rely so much on advertising.

As always, with a preference for gnomic ambiguity, Musk was light-hearted and even controversial when discussing his plans for the platform, but in a tweet yesterday he suggested some direction of travel.

While Twitter will always be free for “casual users,” Musk said commercial and government accounts should expect a “light price.” The exact definition of random users and merchant accounts is unclear.

Musk also raised eyebrows with his apparent commitment to “absolutism of free speech” and veiled threats to undo Twitter’s belated efforts to step up its moderation practices to detoxify the platform. Definitions of free speech vary around the world, but most would oppose giving terrorist groups, child abusers, human traffickers and spammers a guaranteed platform to promote their activities. There are always boundaries and the regulation of online platforms is moving in the opposite direction in many parts of the world. Away from these end cases, guaranteeing a megaphone for the best resources will only exacerbate existing power imbalances.

To address the problem of bots, Musk suggested that all human users be checked. Bots and their role in spreading misinformation are obviously extremely problematic – but so is the verification requirement, which makes it easier for abusers to create social graphics and build a clear picture of their activities outside of Twitter – and is dangerous for many in repressive regimes – and these days we can all live in one of them earlier than we know.

There are also reports that Musk will try to sell Twitter again in just three years.

Musk has been invited to the House of Commons

Whatever his plans, the UK government wants to know more. Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons’ Committee on Digital Technology, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), invited Musk to the United Kingdom to enlighten lawmakers.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Knight wrote: “At a time when social media companies are facing the prospect of tighter regulation around the world, we want to learn more about how Mr Musk will balance his clear commitment to freedom of speech with new obligations. to protect Twitter users from online harm.

“Appearing before the committee will give Mr Musk an ideal opportunity to present his proposals for Twitter in more depth, and we look forward to welcoming him.

In circles

Musk is expected to take over Twitter later this year. Meanwhile, the social media platform is testing new innovations, the latest being Circles – the ability to limit tweets to small groups of up to 150 people. Coincidentally or not, there are 150 Dunbar’s numberthe theoretical maximum number of human relationships that the individual can maintain.

The users in a circle are only visible to people in this group, and tweets shared in a circle cannot be tweeted again. Strangely, once you’re in a circle, you can’t leave, just block or mute others in it.

The experimental feature is being introduced for select users worldwide.


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