- Billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk is joining Twitter’s board of directors.
- Musk said he’s planning “to make significant improvements to Twitter” in the coming months.
- His public tweet history offers some good indications of what to expect.
During the first few months of 2022, billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk quietly spent over $2.6 billion on Twitter stock.
As a result, he’s now the largest single shareholder of Twitter, with over 9% of the company’s stock in his portfolio. That kind of investment comes with perks — Musk was officially appointed to the company’s board of directors this week.
When Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced the appointment on Twitter, Musk replied with a promise “to make significant improvements” to the platform in the coming months. Musk even changed his investment designation to clarify that he isn’t simply a “passive” investor, but one who intends to impact the way the company is run.
So, what exactly does Musk intend to do at Twitter?
While we may not know his specific intentions as a board member, Musk has been no stranger to voicing his thoughts on how to change Twitter, using the very platform itself. Here are four proposals we expect Musk to make in the coming months, based on his past tweets.
1. Loosening content moderation
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2022
Musk has repeatedly referred to Twitter as “the de factor public town square” of the modern era — the digital equivalent of a public forum.
To that end, he’s been critical of Twitter’s decision to permanently ban former president Donald Trump from the site, following the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
“A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech,” Musk tweeted in response to the Christian Conservative satire publication The Babylon Bee, after it shared a satirical news article on January 11, 2021 titled, “Evil Fascist Dictator Censored and Voted Out of Office.”
Based on Musk’s tweets, it sounds like he’ll push for looser moderation at Twitter.
He demonstrated the sentiment at least once in recent weeks: At his satellite internet startup, Starlink, he refused requests “by some governments (not Ukraine)” to block news broadcasts from Russia.
“We will not do so unless at gunpoint,” he said. “Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”
2. Algorithm changes
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2022
Another point Musk has raised in the past involves Twitter’s role in shaping society. He polled his followers last month on whether they think Twitter’s algorithm should be “open source” — a term for software that’s distributed freely and able to be manipulated openly by many different contributors.
It may sound technical, but the idea is tied to his feelings on free speech.
“I’m worried about de facto bias in ‘the Twitter algorithm’ having a major effect on public discourse,” Musk said to one follower. “How do we know what’s really happening?”
3. Removing spam bots
Some of Musk’s anticipated proposals speak more to his personal use of Twitter than anything else. For example, he’s previously stated he wants to get rid of “crypto spam bots” — spam accounts promoting what appear to be crypto-based scams, which often use Musk’s Twitter likeness.
Musk has called the spam problem on Twitter the “single most annoying problem” with using the service. He’s even publicly pleaded with Twitter to do something about the issue. “How long must this go on?” he asked in February.
4. Adding an edit button
Musk is in favor of the edit button that Twitter users have been requesting for years.
He’s supported the long-running hope that Twitter will some day add an edit function to its service so that users are able to fix, at very least, basic spelling errors or mistaken links immediately after posting. His 80 million-plus followers overwhelmingly supported adding the function in a poll he ran last month.
Notably, Twitter said this week that it’s been working on the functionality for some time.
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