Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter was accepted On Monday, and we’re still waiting to see if the transaction will hold up and, more significantly, what a Musk-led Twitter would look like once the dust settles. While no clear plans for what new features will be included in the “new Twitter” have been released, Musk has given a few indications in recent weeks about the kinds of changes he’d want to see made to everyone’s favourite social media hellhole.
So let’s dig deeper into those hints. Here are four features we could see in a Twitter run by Musk.
1. Reduce content moderation
Reduced content moderation, while not strictly an app feature, is still a significant change in how users will interact with Twitter. And it’s a shift Musk has talked about a lot on Twitter. In fact, some of his tweets suggest that he would like to see Twitter’s current content filtering procedures changed so that he could be more free to say what he wants to.
By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law.
I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.
If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.
Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
If Musk decides to scale back Twitter’s present content moderation measures, it’s possible that more of the content that those policies were designed to combat, such as harassment, misinformation, and “hateful behaviour,” may emerge.
He may very easily start a new Twitter if he establishes that what he deems free speech goes beyond Twitter’s current regulations. However, people may not feel free to express their opinions for fear of being subjected to unchecked harassment by other users.
Another roadblock he’ll encounter if he decides to make this move, as pointed out by several Twitter users, is that having a policy that complies with US free speech legislation does not always imply that Twitter will abide by the laws of other nations. Twitter, on the other hand, is a global social networking site. So, how would less content moderation function in places where some type of moderation appears to be required?
The issue of how to handle abuse and harassment on Twitter will never go away. With its moderation standards, Twitter has at least attempted to answer that question. If Musk cuts content moderation, he’ll have to address that question.
2. Edit button
Before we go any further, it’s vital to note that Twitter has been working on an edit button “since last year.” so long before Musk’s attempt to purchase Twitter. Musk, on the other hand, has expressed interest in the feature. Earlier this month, he polled his followers on the subject:
Do you want an edit button?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
However, you may get a sense of the path this edit button might take under Musk by looking at the responses to this Twitter poll. A Twitter user responded to the poll with his requirements for an edit button, which include a time restriction and “a little link that indicates the edit.” “That sounds plausible,” Musk responded simply.
So, if Musk pays attention to the poll results, a Twitter run by him may include an edit button. It’s also likely that, instead of letting people update their tweets whenever they want, such an edit button will have rules and features that will keep the tweet’s context.
Encrypted DMs (Direct Messages) are the only item on our list for which Musk provides detailed details. He said that in a tweet:
Twitter DMs should have end to end encryption like Signal, so no one can spy on or hack your messages
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 28, 2022
Twitter was working on such a feature, but “abandoned it,” according to a response from Jane Manchun Wong. Wong’s response also included a link to a tweet she sent in 2018, in which she showed screenshots of the then-in-development end-to-end encrypted DM functionality.
Twitter worked on Encrypted DMs but abandoned it https://t.co/pBEQrokH6e
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 28, 2022
End-to-end encrypted DMs on the Bird app would be a godsend for privacy. It would provide a secure way for Twitter users to communicate in which only the sender and intended recipient would be able to view the messages sent. This is especially useful if you need to share sensitive information with someone you can trust. It adds another layer of protection.
Given that Twitter has already worked on it and Musk appears to be in favour of the idea, it’s feasible that we’ll see it as a fully fledged feature again.
If encrypted DMs were Musk’s most direct request, then authentication would likely be his most hazy. He’s stated that it’s something he wants, but hasn’t specified how it should be accomplished.
In a press release announcing his purchase, he describes Twitter as “authenticating all humanity.” In a tweet, he expressed his wish to authenticate people on Twitter:
And authenticate all real humans
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2022
We don’t know much else about him other than that he plainly seeks a mechanism to validate accounts that belong to real people. What we do know is that Musk frequently mentions this “authenticate all humans” feature in conjunction with another Twitter goal: “beating the spam bots.” As a result, it’s likely that he’d prefer an authentication function to assist in minimising the number of spam bots that wreak havoc on Twitter.
Wong expressed alarm about this in a response to one of Musk’s tweets:
How can we ensure the people from at-risk regions who have to be under pseudonyms to enjoy the freedom to express the truth while authenticating they’re real humans without blowing their cover?
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) April 21, 2022
Wong is correct. In certain cases, people are unable to use their true names because doing so would place them at grave risk, whether that danger is posed by an oppressive government or domestic abuse.
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