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Twitter: Elon Musk's New Toy

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There are few people who haven’t heard the name Elon Musk. According to Forbes, Musk is currently the richest man in the world, with a net worth of over $200 billion. His name is associated with companies like Tesla, SpaceX, NeuraLink, and as of October 2022, Twitter.

Musk purchased Twitter for an inflated price, well over its worth, for $44 billion, and this purchase has triggered a dramatic series of events.

Twitter is a social media platform that was launched in 2006 and has since become one of the most popular platforms, achieving a position at the top, right next to Facebook and Instagram.

Twitter has brought many features to the table that set it apart from other social media websites. The format allowed people not only to create posts, but also like them, respond to them and retweet them. It gave public personas the option of verifying their account, in an attempt to limit misinformation, which exemplified their policy of making sure correct information was being put out into the digital world.

One of the most popular features of Twitter, however, was the hashtag, which allowed people to categorize their posts under the same hashtag. The hashtag feature went to such lengths in order to create powerful movements and spread them throughout media, one of the best known being the #MeToo movement.


Current Downfall of Twitter

After his purchase of Twitter, Elon Musk made it clear that his intentions are to revolutionize the platform and improve it, but it has become obvious that the current format of Twitter is limited. On top of that, the changes have brought about an increase in false accounts that has led to a chaotic online presence on Twitter.

While at its roots, Twitter has promoted the authenticity of the information being communicated, that no longer seems to be the case. In an attempt to promote free speech, Elon Musk has unbanned previously suspended accounts, like Donald Trump, Kanye West, and Kathy Griffin, giving them a voice back.

At the same time, despite Musk’s pledge for freedom of speech, multiple accounts that parodied him have been suspended. He also banned the account that tracked his private jet, as well as the accounts of the journalists that covered the issue and criticized him for it, including The New York Times, CNN, and The Washington Post.

The most severe of these measures involved the suspending of multiple anti-fascist accounts, as well as accounts that were meant to provide security for LGBTQ+ groups. Musk also removed a policy that prevented misinformation about COVID-19 from being spread, and he dissolved the council that was responsible for policing self-harm content, hate speech, and children sexual exploitation, thereby removing Twitter's position as a "safe space."


The Blue Check

While Twitter previously offered the option of verifying public profiles, Musk has instated the so-called Twitter Blue subscription. This means people would have to pay for a monthly subscription that would allow them to have a blue checkmark for a verified profile.

Although it started as a way to keep out spambots, this measure has backfired, by allowing every Twitter user to purchase a Blue subscription. This has led to multiple impersonators spreading misinformation that goes unpoliced, one of the most popular examples being the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly's impersonator creating a tweet claiming insulin was free, leading to mayhem.

Musk has tried to counteract this outcome by introducing a grey checkmark for previously verified profiles, but this led to Twitter now having multiple grey and blue verified profiles, with no way of telling which ones were authentic and which ones were parody impersonators.

A subsequent measure added a gold checkmarks for business accounts, as well as an attempt to color-code the verifications, but this has only amplified the chaos.

Administrative Measures Under Musk's Leadership

One of the first administrative measures that Musk took when coming into power was mass firing, including top executives of Twitter and the previous CEO, as well as laying off half the workforce.

In light of the mass firing, Musk announced that the remaining workers would have to pick up the pace and put in more hours to make up for the increased demand, but this has only led to people mass-quitting and walking out. As a result, Twitter ended up suffering from a deficit in workforce.


The Future of Twitter?

According to The Guardian, the prediction for two years after the Musk takeover is that Twitter will lose about 32 million users as a direct consequence of the spread of hate speech as well as technical issues that will make the platform more difficult to use. The same predictions claim that Twitter will lose significant revenue due to advertising companies pulling back from the platform in light of safety concerns.

One thing is for sure. As much as freedom of speech is preached on Twitter, what is happening right now is not a democracy, as much as it would like to be. Free speech is encouraged, and yet censorship is practiced in all the wrong places and hate speech and misinformation are slipping through the cracks.

At this rate, as successful as Elon Musk’s other projects have been, Twitter might just prove to be stripped of its legacy and turned into a failure.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Diana DM