Now that Elon Musk has another new toy to play with courtesy of his buyout of Twitter, the world will be watching every move he makes. By ponying up $44 billion to buy Twitter, Musk went all-in on his quest to improve what he calls “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated."
How will people who use Twitter see his mission play out? Among the things the SpaceX, Starlink, and Tesla CEO has said is on his wish list is shaking up Twitter’s content rules in the name of free speech. Musk thinks of himself as a "free speech absolutist" – going as far as taking a not-so-cheap shot at the company he just bought for what he views as excessive moderation.
“If it’s a gray area, let the tweet exist,” Musk said in Tweets and conversations leading up to his takeover of Twitter.
Does that mean Twitter’s current stance of banning harassing and abusive tweets will end on the first day that Musk is in charge?
“Experts who study social networks fret about Musk's push to loosen the rules of engagement on Twitter,” Bobby Allyn reported on NPR’s Morning Edition. “They say that could give license to harassers, trolls and others who abuse the platform to target people.”
Allyn said the same experts fret that relaxing Twitter's rules will give power to those who want to exploit the platform to spread misinformation about political events, government officials, and matters related to public health and safety.
Editing tweets and cutting out ads
Another change – one that Twitter users have been begging for for years – is a rudimentary edit button. There’s no guarantee that change will happen, but Musk has gone on record saying he supports letting people change what their tweets say. If Musk gives users that power, they can change content on the fly just like they can on other platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Musk took a poll of what changes Twitter users would like to see in advance of his takeover bid. An edit button got the thumbs-up on more than 3.2 million of the 4 million votes cast.
Lastly, users who hate advertising may no longer have to deal with it on Twitter. With Musk taking the company private, it won’t be under the same stress to perform for shareholders like it is now.
However, Musk has indicated he might move Twitter to a subscription model instead of making it ad-free. That's a move that's been tested out before. Last year, the company introduced Twitter Blue -- a premium service that cost $2.99 a month for additional features like different color schemes and advanced editing options.