Elon Musk’s bid spotlights Twitter’s distinctive function in public discourse – and what adjustments could be in store- Technology News, Firstpost

Twitter has been within the information rather a lot currently, albeit for the flawed causes. Its inventory development has languished and the platform itself has largely remained the same since its founding in 2006. On April 14, 2022, Elon Musk, the world’s richest individual, made an offer to buy Twitter and take the general public firm non-public.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk said, “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”

As a researcher of social media platforms, I discover that Musk’s potential possession of Twitter and his said causes for purchasing the corporate increase vital points. Those points stem from the character of the social media platform and what units it aside from others.

What makes Twitter distinctive

Twitter occupies a novel area of interest. Its quick chunks of textual content and threading foster real-time conversations amongst hundreds of individuals, which makes it fashionable with celebrities, media personalities and politicians alike.

Social media analysts speak concerning the half-life of content material on a platform, that means the time it takes for a bit of content material to achieve 50% of its complete lifetime engagement, often measured in variety of views or recognition primarily based metrics. The common half lifetime of a tweet is about 20 minutes, in comparison with 5 hours for Facebook posts, 20 hours for Instagram posts, 24 hours for LinkedIn posts and 20 days for YouTube movies. The a lot shorter half life illustrates the central function Twitter has come to occupy in driving real-time conversations as occasions unfold.

Twitter’s means to form real-time discourse, in addition to the convenience with which information, together with geo-tagged information, may be gathered from Twitter has made it a gold mine for researchers to research a wide range of societal phenomena, starting from public well being to politics. Twitter information has been used to foretell asthma-related emergency department visits, measure public epidemic awareness, and mannequin wildfire smoke dispersion.

Tweets which can be a part of a dialog are shown in chronological order, and, despite the fact that a lot of a tweet’s engagement is frontloaded, the Twitter archive provides instant and complete access to every public Tweet. This positions Twitter as a historical chronicler of record and a de facto reality checker.

Changes on Musk’s thoughts

An important difficulty is how Musk’s possession of Twitter, and personal management of social media platforms usually, have an effect on the broader public well-being. In a sequence of deleted tweets, Musk made a number of suggestions about how to change Twitter, together with including an edit button for tweets and granting automated verification marks to premium customers.

There isn’t any experimental proof about how an edit button would change info transmission on Twitter. However, it’s potential to extrapolate from earlier analysis that analyzed deleted tweets.

There are quite a few methods to retrieve deleted tweets, which permits researchers to review them. While some research present significant personality differences between customers who delete their tweets and those that don’t, these findings counsel that deleting tweets is a way for people to manage their online identities.

Analyzing deleting conduct can even yield worthwhile clues about online credibility and disinformation. Similarly, if Twitter provides an edit button, analyzing the patterns of modifying conduct might present insights into Twitter customers’ motivations and the way they current themselves.


Studies of bot-generated exercise on Twitter have concluded that nearly half of accounts tweeting about COVID-19 are likely bots. Given partisanship and political polarization in online spaces, permitting customers – whether or not they’re automated bots or precise folks – the choice to edit their tweets might change into one other weapon within the disinformation arsenal utilized by bots and propagandists. Editing tweets might permit customers to selectively distort what they mentioned, or deny making inflammatory remarks, which might complicate efforts to hint misinformation.

Twitter’s content material moderation and income mannequin

To perceive Musk’s motivations and what lies subsequent for social media platforms similar to Twitter, it’s vital to think about the gargantuan – and opaque – online advertising ecosystem involving a number of applied sciences wielded by advert networks, social media corporations and publishers. Advertising is the primary revenue source for Twitter.

Musk’s imaginative and prescient is to generate income for Twitter from subscriptions fairly than promoting. Without having to fret about attracting and retaining advertisers, Twitter would have much less stress to deal with content material moderation. This would make Twitter a type of freewheeling opinion web site for paying subscribers. Twitter has been aggressive in using content moderation in its makes an attempt to handle disinformation.

Musk’s description of a platform free from content moderation issues is troubling in mild of the algorithmic harms attributable to social media platforms. Research has proven a bunch of those harms, similar to algorithms that assign gender to customers, potential inaccuracies and biases in algorithms used to glean info from these platforms, and the impression on these looking for health information online.

Testimony by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and up to date regulatory efforts such because the online safety bill unveiled in the U.K. present there may be broad public concern concerning the function performed by know-how platforms in shaping fashionable discourse and public opinion. Musk’s potential bid for Twitter highlights a whole host of regulatory concerns.

Because of Musk’s different companies, Twitter’s ability to influence public opinion within the delicate industries of aviation and the car trade would mechanically create a battle of curiosity, to not point out affecting the disclosure of material information mandatory for shareholders. Musk has already been accused of delaying disclosure of his ownership stake in Twitter.

Twitter’s personal algorithmic bias bounty challenge concluded that there must be a community-led strategy to construct higher algorithms. A really artistic train developed by the MIT Media Lab asks center schoolers to re-imagine the YouTube platform with ethics in mind. Perhaps it’s time to ask Twitter to do the identical, whoever owns and manages the corporate.

Anjana Susarla, Professor of Information Systems, Michigan State University This article is republished from The Conversation beneath a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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