Billionaire Elon Musk has cheeky ideas about Twitter. Now he really has to make them a reality.

Late Thursday, Musk closed a a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, ushering in a massive turnaround at the social media company. His first order of business: firing key executives at the company, including CEO Parag Agrawal.

Musk’s takeover of Twitter was chaotic because he repeatedly changed his mind about buying the social media platform. From the outside looking in, the world’s richest man is vocal about his lofty visions for Twitter’s future. Now, on the inside, Musk must try to bring his wildest ambitions to life on Twitter — or shift gears again.

For regular users, this means the Twitter you once knew may be a thing of the past. The company, which is still one of the most influential destinations on the internet, may start adding more features like payments as it evolves beyond just a social media platform. Site content moderation may become more lax, making it harder for users to fight harassment, hate speech and other abuse.

Musk has already thrown out many aspirations, such as defeating spambots, turning Twitter into an “app for everything” like WeChat, and increasing growth to 1 billion users. In the middle of this year, Twitter had about 238 million people using the service daily. Facebook, by comparison, is approaching 2 billion.

One of his most controversial proposals: reversing the permanent ban for former US President Donald Trump, who was introduced two days after the deadly riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Twitter warned that Trump’s tweets risked inciting further violence.

But even before he faced the reality of owning the company, not all of Musk’s ideas stuck.

At one point, Musk proposed a blockchain-based version of Twitter and floated the idea of ​​turning Twitter’s headquarters into a homeless shelter. He deleted tweets in April that recommended Twitter’s $5-a-month Blue subscription service remove all ads for members, automatically hand out authentication checks and allow subscribers to pay using the Dogecoin cryptocurrency.

And Musk, who once declared he “hates advertising,” changed his tune on Thursday, tweeting an ode to marketers that “advertising, when done right, can delight, entertain and inform you.”

“Twitter’s ad business is already in a precarious position,” said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg. “Uncertainty stemming from a weak economy and Musk’s erratic behavior has caused advertisers to pull back.”

Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here are three changes Musk continues to push on Twitter — and what they might look like for you:

Create an “app for everything”

Twitter can become a platform known for more than just sharing your thoughts. The service is trying to add more features like shopping and tipping, but Twitter hasn’t changed dramatically in recent years.

Musk has said he wants to create a service similar to WeChat, a Chinese messaging app that allows users to do everything from making payments, playing games and shopping. He sees owning Twitter as part of that grand vision.

“Buying Twitter is an accelerator to create X, the app for everything,” Musk tweeted in October.

If Twitter can adopt this kind of Swiss Army Knife identity, it could mean you’ll be turning to the app not only for hot photos and memes, but also for food delivery and sending or receiving money.

This could mean that Twitter changes into an app like WeChat or folds into a new app entirely.

But to achieve that goal, Twitter will have to reach a level of dominance it hasn’t even come close to. Part of WeChat’s success was that when it became ubiquitous, it enjoyed relatively modest competition in mainland China compared to the state of Internet services today. While Twitter continues to compete with other social networks like Facebook and Meta’s TikTok, it will have to start going up against PayPal, GrubHub and others.

WeChat has also added its features for more than a decade. Creating Musk’s “everything app” will take years.

Finding ways to make money outside of ads

Twitter makes most of its money from ads.

James Martin/CNET

While Musk tried to reassure advertisers on Thursday, he has made it clear in the past that he is not the biggest fan of advertising. Twitter’s dilemma is that it makes most of its money from ads.

In late April, Musk said banks he will not only look for ways to cut costs, but find ways to make money from viral tweets or those that include important information, Reuters reported. He also proposed charging third-party websites when they quote or embed a tweet from verified individuals or organizations.

Musk also praised proposals for Twitter to introduce paid memberships that include 24-hour customer service or give creators an incentive to post on Twitter first by offering them a better share of ad revenue than rivals like TikTok and YouTube.

In theory, this means you could end up paying for new services, such as hiring an employee to help restore a hacked account.

Twitter is already experimenting with the idea of ​​a membership that unlocks early access to features like an edit button. But getting users to pay for new tools and subscriptions to an app that most have always used for free can be a tough sell, especially at a time when inflation is pushing people to cut back.

Resetting the rules for free expression

The phone screen is full of Twitter icons

Twitter has rules about what users are allowed to post on the platform.

James Martin/CNET

Musk, an avid Twitter user with more than 110 million followers, is also one of Twitter’s harshest critics when it comes to how the site moderates content.

“It is important to the future of civilization that we have a common digital city square,” he said in a tweet on Thursday. “Right now there is a great danger that social media will split into far-right and far-left echo chambers that generate more hatred and divide our society.”

At the same time, Twitter cannot become a “free-for-all hell where anything can be said without consequence,” he added. Musk said Twitter should only police speech that is illegal, but also promised to crack down on spam and fake accounts on the platform.

Although Musk portrays himself as a savior of free speech, abandoning harmful content could make casual Twitter users more wary of spending time on the platform or sharing their thoughts.

His views on how Twitter moderates content have already faced scrutiny from advocacy and civil rights groups. Critics fear its takeover will slow Twitter’s progress in combating hate speech, harassment and other offensive content.

Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, said he was most concerned about Musk’s decision to fire Vijaya Gade, Twitter’s head of legal policy, trust and safety. Gadde did not respond to a request for comment.

“The danger here is that in the name of ‘free speech,’ Musk will turn back the clock and turn Twitter into a more powerful engine of hate, division and misinformation about elections, public health policy and international affairs,” Barrett said. in a statement.

On Friday, Musk tweeted that Twitter would form a “content moderation board with very diverse perspectives.” While Musk said he would lift Trump’s permanent ban on the platform, he also noted that “no major decisions about content or account recovery will be made before this council convenes.”

But in the US, if Twitter only removed what was required by law, it would remove far less than it does today. Twitter has a long list of rules about what’s not allowed on its site — not everything is completely illegal. Twitter is supposed to remove images of child sexual abuse, for example, but the platform is also removing tweets that contain harmful misinformation about COVID-19. Disinformation, although it can be dangerous, is not necessarily illegal in countries like the US.

Another big problem is Twitter’s reliance on ads. Businesses don’t want their ads next to offensive content, a challenge Twitter has faced before.