Updated Oct 28, 2022 - Technology

Everything Elon Musk wants to change about Twitter

Elon Musk

Elon Musk speaks at a press conference at SpaceX's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on February 10, 2022. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk "freed" the bird on Thursday night, and with his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, he is already turning to the changes he has said he wants to implement.

State of play: Even after months of dramatic attempts to renege, Musk has talked for a while about the things he would want to change about the social media platform, from ending permanent bans to limiting content moderation.

Here's a look at everything Musk has said he wants to alter:

Ending permanent bans:

Musk said he would like to reform the platform's use of permanent user bans, including reversing former President Trump's ban — a stance that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey agrees with.

  • Musk called Twitter's ban of Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot "morally wrong and flat out stupid" because it didn't silence Trump but drove him to create his own social media platform, Truth Social.
  • He believes permanent bans on Twitter should be quite rare because they "fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a town square where everyone can voice their opinion," though he said they could be used against "spam" or "scam" accounts.
  • Instead, he would like the platform to temporarily suspend people who tweet something "that is illegal or destructive to the world" or delete the tweet entirely.
Long-form tweets

Musk has also suggested allowing long-form tweets.

  • He commented on a long Twitter thread in April 2022: "My most immediate takeaway from this novella of a thread is that Twitter is *way* overdue for long form tweets!"

Where it stands: Twitter has a 280 character limit. The company increased from a 140 characters in 2017.

Spam bots and authentication

Musk once called spam bots "the single most annoying problem" on Twitter. He tweeted in April 2022: "If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!"

  • He wrote in a reply to that tweet that Twitter would "authenticate all real humans" under his ownership.
Open-source algorithm

Musk has said he's concerned about bias being inherent to Twitter's algorithm — which he said he'd solve with an open-source algorithm.

  • In late March 2022, he tweeted, "I’m worried about de facto bias in 'the Twitter algorithm' having a major effect on public discourse. How do we know what’s really happening?"
  • Musk polled his followers on whether they'd support an open-source algorithm. About 83% of more than 1.1 million respondents said they would.

Be smart: An open-source algorithm would make publicly available the calculus which determines what appears on a person's Twitter feed.

Content moderation

Musk has outlined his free speech-first vision for Twitter. He said at the TED2022 conference he thinks Twitter should not regulate content beyond what is required by the laws of the countries it operates in.

  • "A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech," Musk said in a tweeted in January 2021.

Our thought bubble: It's easier to advocate broad policy change from the outside of a company like Twitter than to enact it from within. It's also worth remembering that Musk has been a mercurial tweeter, and his plans could easily change.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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