Elon Musk’s pledge to allow everyone to say whatever they want on Twitter after the social media giant’s acquisition could place the responsibility on users to fight bullying and misinformation on the platform, experts said.
Details of Musk’s plans for Twitter were thin after his deal to buy the tech firm was announced on Monday, but the Tesla chief described himself as an absolute member of free speech.
But Twitter’s privatization with Musk, as its master, has raised concerns from analysts and activists that the site will be ruled by the world’s richest people, focusing more on attention and profit than promoting healthy online conversations, which has been a priority in service.
For Syracuse University assistant professor of communications law Kyla Garrett-Wagner, Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is not a victory for the right to freedom of expression.
“What we have done is put more power into fewer hands,” he told AFP.
“If Elon Musk decides tomorrow that he wants to shut down Twitter for a week, he can do it.”
He said the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution only prevented the government from mocking what the people were saying – giving the millionaire entrepreneur the power to decide what could and could not be posted on private entity Twitter.
“It’s not a street corner,” Garrett-Wagner said. “This is a Wild West saying but is owned by a minority elite that does not represent a minority voice.”
‘Trolls take over’
Musk’s promised hands -off approach to content is a very painful thing when it involves high -profile cases like former U.S. President Donald Trump, who was banned from Twitter after an attack on the Capitol by his supporters.
“Musk said he was going to make Twitter a social media platform without moderation; there were a few of them and it didn’t work,” said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.
“The trolls took over, they became too hostile and drove the crowd off the platform.”
Musk said he refused to ban people from Twitter because of misconduct, leading to speculation that he would lift Trump’s ban.
But Trump on Monday said he would not return to Twitter even if his account was restored, saying he would stick to his own site, Truth Social.
App store problems?
If Musk withdraws policing content on Twitter, advertisers will also need to take the lead to ensure their messages are not linked to toxic content, according to advocates and academics.
“Responsibility now lies with Twitter’s top advertisers, who need to make it clear that if Twitter becomes free of all hatred, extremism and misinformation, they will run,” said Media Matters for America head Angelo Carusone.
“It’s also important that Google and Apple hold Twitter according to the same standards they use for other apps like Parler,” he added, referring to the social network that is popular among conservatives.
The tech giant needs to reiterate that “Twitter will not get special treatment and a violation of their terms of service will result in the platform being removed from the app store,” according to Carusone.
Musk will also face harsh judgments in public opinion courts, with Twitter users tending to turn away from the platform if it becomes hostile and flooded with misinformation, Garrett-Wagner said.
Several of Musk’s own tweets have raised eyebrows, as he once mocked a Tesla informant and in 2018 dubbed a rescue worker who criticized plans to rescue children from a flood-hit cave in Thailand a “pedo man.”
While Musk has talked about removing Twitter from “bot” software that deletes spam, actually confirming that users are living people can prove challenging, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian told investors in a note.
Sebastian noted that Musk’s idea of charging for a coveted blue check mark that verifies a user’s identity is “unthinkable”, but it’s likely only a small number of people will pay for the status.
Musk also said he believes anyone should be able to research the software behind the service.
But such transparency can come with the unintended consequence that it will only be exploited by “evil actors” looking for ways to manipulate the system to promote their posts, analysts have warned.
“The rhetoric about transparency is that it will lead to enlightenment and people will change,” Garrett-Wagner said.
“It’s a confusing comfort to think that everything will be fine if we know how it works.”
(This story has not been edited by AGRASMARTCITY staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)