Almost a week after the announcement of the purchase of Twitter by South African businessman Elon Musk, experts are still understanding what the operation means and the impacts – on the economy, culture and politics. For the first time, a network with more than 200 million users will have a single owner.
Experts think Musk’s management could be promising, given his success in other industries, and that taking the company “privately” could help steer the company in a new direction.
At the same time, they are concerned about the plan to relax moderation policies and the prospect of a new direction for the social network, which could be a more niche platform and with less advertisements.
Amy Webb (fundadora do Future Today Institute)
In an interview with the Marketplace podcast, the futurist highlighted that Musk’s big challenge is: how to make Twitter profitable in a way that won’t influence the user base to go to another network?
Another point mentioned by Webb is that more and more people are looking for more private spaces to interact, on platforms like Telegram and Discord. “This puts Twitter in an interesting position,” he said.
She explains that Musk said he was in favor of making Twitter a Web3 platform [conceito em que a rede deve ser livre, descentralizada e aberta] and signaled that it wants to invest in a subscription program and reduce advertising – something that currently accounts for 90% of the company’s revenue.
“Maybe this will speed up the transition [do Twitter] from a totally free network, where everyone talks to everyone, to a forum that is more delimited, more discreet, and more difficult to find and enter, where the most important are conversations”.
Kara Swisher (host of the New York Times Sway podcast)
One of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious journalists, Swisher said in an interview with New York Magazine that Musk sees Twitter “as a business opportunity” and that, given its history, it can make the social network thrive, even if it’s lower revenue and with fewer users (200 million). Facebook has almost 3 billion and TikTok has 755 million, for example.
“It is possible that it will work, as he is good at succeeding in industries where it seems impossible to succeed,” he said, referring to success in the electric car (Tesla) and space rocket (SpaceX) sectors.
At the same time, based on Musk’s previous plans, the journalist says that the attempt to “eliminate gray areas” of content moderation “can be a problem”, given that the world is increasingly complex.
Swisher also says that Musk is a difficult person to label. “Now the right supports him, and the left sees him as something of a villain,” he says. “He liked some of Trump’s policies, but he didn’t like him as a person,” he exemplifies.
“Many inventors were difficult, troublesome people—Steve Jobs, for example. In times when things are so small, it’s hard for us to think about how complex we are. And that’s exactly what he is.”
Casey Newton (author of the Platformer newsletter and columnist for The Verge)
In a Wired magazine podcast, prior to the announcement of the purchase of Twitter by Musk, Newton stressed that the entrepreneur has conflicting ideas about the network.
Newton explains that while Musk wants to fight robot users and spam, he wants to make the algorithm open source – which, in theory, would give an advantage to anyone who wanted to abuse the network. Knowing the “gears” of the algorithm, malicious people could find ways to circumvent the codes.
“In my experience, when someone comes up with a plan with these internal contradictions, it’s a sign that they haven’t thought enough about it,” he said.
At the same time, the journalist pointed out that Twitter has such a complex operation that Musk, by taking the company private, may be the only person who can help give the platform a new direction.