Elon Musk has just bought the social network Twitter for 44 billion dollars. But what are the consequences for users?
After long months of twists and turns, Elon Musk finally took over Twitter on October 27. The boss of Tesla and SpaceX will also become that of the platform, after having already dismissed the main executives of the platform, starting with its CEO. Since last spring, multiple statements from Elon Musk have allowed us to paint a portrait of the future Twitter, as he imagines it.
Freedom of speech (in theory)
This is one of Elon Musk’s main promises: to impose the return of what he considers to be freedom of expression. As proof, his first tweet as the owner of Twitter: “the bird has been released”. A promise, however, regularly tempered by the businessman himself, well aware that he will be forced to respect the laws of the countries in which Twitter is established.
If it is unlikely that Elon Musk insists on the development of moderation tools or on the recruitment of human moderators, Twitter will however have to apply French law in France, which prohibits hate speech, threats, or even denial remarks (authorized in the United States).
The return of Donald Trump (if he wishes)
As he has explained on several occasions, Elon Musk wishes to return to the definitive banishment of users. He has already spoken out on the final exclusion of Donald Trump after the invasion of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, believing that it was a mistake.
Under the Musk era, it is therefore likely that the former American president will be free to return to Twitter, at least if he expresses the desire, to find his approximately 90 million subscribers.
Other equally sensitive cases could arise for Elon Musk, starting with Kanye West’s recent anti-Semitic tweets which earned the American rapper a ban from Twitter.
New functions (à la WeChat)
Elon Musk regularly returned to his desire to develop new possibilities for Twitter. If the social network teams have already given in on the arrival of an edit button for his tweets, Musk shared his wish to make the platform a “super app”, fulfilling other functions than simple public exchanges .
On October 5, he mentioned the takeover of Twitter as “an accelerator” to create an “all-purpose application” called X. This statement echoes Elon Musk’s admiration for the Chinese giant WeChat, whose application is one of the most popular in the country.
WeChat notably offers messaging functions, like WhatsApp, but also the possibility of exchanging money, as allowed by applications such as Lydia or PayPal, of which Elon Musk is one of the historical co-founders.
The end of spam (if possible)
Among the arguments raised by Elon Musk to cancel the takeover at the beginning of the summer, the presence of many fake accounts on the platform. Elon Musk has repeatedly returned to the problem of spam and scams on Twitter, which sometimes even use his image.
To achieve his goals, Elon Musk will have to find the solution that Twitter teams have not found so far, without imposing measures that are too restrictive for users, such as systematic identity verification.