Updated May 11, 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

Twitter agreed to be acquired by Elon Musk for around $44 billion in cash. The news came weeks after the tech mogul launched his unsolicited, take-it-or-leave-it offer.

State of play: Musk has talked for a while about the things he would want to change about the social media platform, from adding an edit button 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.
An edit button

Musk noted the social media platform's lack of an edit button back in a 2019 tweet: "Where’s the edit function when you really need it!?" he wrote.

  • At the TED2022 conference in April 2022, Musk said he wants Twitter to have an “edit” button and believes the problems critics raise can be resolved. “I think you only have the edit capability for a short period of time, and zero out all retweets and favorites” after an edit.

In April 2022, Musk polled his followers on whether they'd want an edit button. About 74% of more than 4.4 million respondents voted yes.

Worth noting: Twitter confirmed after the poll it is working on an edit button, adding, "No, we didn't get the idea from a poll."

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.

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