Oct 29, 2022 - Economy & Business

What Twitter users want from Musk

Illustration of a megaphone in front of a busy patterned background showing emojis, social media notification, and text windows

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Public figures are speaking out about Twitter's change in ownership, with sentiments ranging from enthusiastic support to despair.

Why it matters: Like Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk will likely be bombarded with a continuous flood of user feedback — particularly about what content is allowed and what's not — and his responses will likely reveal patterns and inconsistencies in decision making along the way.

State of play: Requests to reactive banned accounts — specifically Trump's — flooded Twitter today, with direct mentions of @ElonMusk.

  • In response to Musk's "the bird is freed" tweet last night, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) wrote: "now free the GOAT. @realDonaldTrump."
  • Hodgetwins tweeted at Musk asking when "wrongfully banned accounts" would come back online, and Newsmax host Benny Johnson separately posted a slideshow of screenshots of suspended accounts saying, "Now it's time to Free Them All."

The other side: Some users shared screenshots of antisemitic tweets and tweets containing the N-word sent during the first few hours of Musk's takeover, meant to illustrate how badly things had already progressed and the need for content moderation.

  • Public health scientist Eric Feigl-Ding and historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat were among those who recommended people stay on Twitter even if they are turned off, so as to not "vacate the field."
  • At the same time, Feigl-Ding also notably remarked last night, "[Twitter] is now the private domain of one all-powerful person. God save @Twitter and humanity."

Zoom out: It's impossible to have a one-size fits all solution for moderating content because of varying international laws, Courtney Radsch, a fellow at the UCLA Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, previously told Axios.

  • In the U.S. specifically, "there is definitely a partisan divide," when it comes to who is happy or not about the deal, she added.

What to watch: The German government told Reuters it will consider whether to keep its presence on Twitter as a result of Musk's takeover, and European regulators reiterated their content moderation laws and fines around illegal content.

  • Twitter will develop a new “content moderation council” Musk said on Friday, without mentioning specifics or a timetable, and before he declared later in a tweet that “Anyone suspended for minor & dubious reasons will be freed from Twitter jail.”

Go deeper:

Go deeper