A Look at All the Changes Implemented by Elon Musk at Twitter in his Time as Chief Twit

It’s been simply over 50 days since Elon Musk lugged a sink into Twitter HQ for his first day in his new function as proprietor of the platform, and since then, we’ve seen numerous coverage adjustments, workers cuts, exposes of inner paperwork, and extra.

However now, we could also be at the finish of the Elon as ‘Chief Twit’ experiment, with Musk tweeting out this ballot on Sunday afternoon:

The outcomes haven’t gone in Musk’s favor, and he has, to date, caught to his phrase on abiding by ballot outcomes.

Which begs the query, ‘what has Elon truly accomplished, in a coverage sense, at Twitter?’

Elon’s been very eager to tout his view on ‘free speech’, and the way the platform, below his possession, will enable extra forms of feedback and content material.

However will it? Has he truly modified something to make Twitter extra open?

Right here’s a glance again at all of the main bulletins and coverage updates which have been applied to date by Elon and his Twitter 2.0 group.

1. Paid verification

Musk’s first massive announcement, in fact, was his paid verification plan, by which individuals will be capable to pay $8 monthly to get a blue checkmark, to allow them to digitally cosplay as celebrities in the app.

Musk initially wanted to charge $20 per month, earlier than realizing that was too excessive for regular people who don’t have billions of {dollars} in discretionary spend. So he lowered it to $8, or $96 every year to maintain your blue tick – although iOS subscribers have to pay $11 per month as a result of Elon doesn’t wish to pay Apple’s 30% in-app buy tax out of his personal pocket.

Look, it is a pretty flawed, self-serving scheme, which presents little of worth for customers, and loads of worth for Twitter, in phrases of direct income, and as some technique of verifying human customers (as a result of, at least in principle, bots can’t pay). Musk has needed to revise the program to counter impersonation scams, which took off as soon as it was launched, however even now, there’s not loads of cause for folks to pay up – particularly when most users don’t ever tweet, so the advantages, for the majority, actually aren’t value the cash.

However some folks can pay, and Elon’s engaged on extra incentives, like precedence itemizing of replies and in search (once more, irrelevant should you don’t tweet), whereas he’s additionally flagged a new system by which paying subscribers will be capable to downvote different accounts, in order to decrease their tweet publicity.

Once more, Elon’s largest followers can pay, as will those that’ve been determined for a blue checkmark since ceaselessly.

Will that be sufficient to generate vital earnings or worth from the program?

Actually, I doubt it, and Twitter’s most up-to-date makes an attempt to limit customers from posting links to their Mastodon accounts probably recommend that Twitter Blue take-up hasn’t been what Elon anticipated or hoped. 

However we’ll quickly discover out, with Twitter Blue in the technique of being rolled out to extra areas.

2. Account reinstatements

A massive sign of his intentions to make Twitter extra free and open was Musk’s announcement that he would reinstate the profiles of users that had been previously banned from the app. Properly, it was much less an announcement, and really a ballot amongst customers, which has turn into Musk’s go-to circuit-breaker for giant selections.

Over the final month, Twitter has gone about re-instating some 60,000 accounts, belonging to those that had beforehand damaged the platform’s guidelines – as a result of Musk desires to start out off new, with a clear slate.

All of those profiles nonetheless need to play by the platform guidelines, however a few of the app’s largest offenders of occasions previous at the moment are again and tweeting once more.

And about these guidelines…

3. Updating Twitter’s Guidelines and Laws

Right here’s the factor – for all of Musk’s discuss of updating Twitter’s strategy, and making the platform extra open to extra sorts of speech, Twitter itself has repeatedly instructed advert companions that its insurance policies haven’t modified.

As Twitter shared in blog post on November 30th:

None of our insurance policies have modified. Our strategy to coverage enforcement will rely extra closely on de-amplification of violative content material: freedom of speech, however not freedom of attain.”

Once more, Twitter has not modified any of its insurance policies as but, and whereas Musk retains speaking about permitting extra speech, and pointing the finger at previous administration for his or her perceived bias, Twitter’s guidelines round content material, and what’s and isn’t allowed in the app, are precisely the identical.

Some have advised that Musk has taken stronger action against child sexual abuse material, although consultants say that those changed haven’t had much impact, whereas Twitter has additionally stopped enforcing its COVID misinformation policy, an space the place Musk has sturdy opinions.

However functionally, the Twitter you’re utilizing proper now’s no extra free or open than the one managed by Parag Agrawal at the identical time final yr.

Twitter is relying extra on automation, as a result of Musk cut a huge amount of its moderation staff, so there are probably extra errors in enforcement. However once more, as the guidelines are written, as the insurance policies are set, Elon Musk has accomplished nothing to replace Twitter’s strategy to what’s and isn’t allowed in the app.

Or he hadn’t, till final weekend.

4. No Doxxing

Elon Musk has, nonetheless, introduced one significant policy shift:

“When somebody shares a person’s dwell location on Twitter, there’s an elevated danger of bodily hurt. Transferring ahead, we’ll take away Tweets that share this info, and accounts devoted to sharing another person’s dwell location shall be suspended.”

After an incident in which his younger son was confronted by a stalker, Elon determined to take decisive motion in opposition to any Twitter account that shares dwell location data, in order to keep away from potential hurt.

Twitter’s new rules state that customers can not share live location info of any sort, ‘together with info shared on Twitter instantly or hyperlinks to Third-party URL(s) of journey routes’. Which, technically, guidelines out just about all live-streams, as you’d be sharing the dwell location of anyone featured in the video.

Which might turn into an issue in the case of civil unrest, and governments eager to get rid of destructive protection resulting from such. Say, for instance, a person is sharing footage of protests in Hong Kong, and the Chinese language Authorities calls on Twitter to close the stream down resulting from this rule.

It’s not precisely what the replace is meant for, however it may very well be used in this manner.

What’s most fascinating right here is the indisputable fact that Musk has drawn the line at private security. In Musk’s view, dwell location info shouldn’t be shared, as a result of it might result in actual world hurt. Which most would agree with, and with that being the parameter, it’ll be fascinating to see if future coverage selections at the app are made with this in thoughts.

That, at core, is the key logic that Twitter’s moderation group has all the time labored from – ‘what are the probabilities of this tweet inflicting precise hurt in the actual world?’

Musk and Co. wish to demonize Twitter’s past decisions, and body them as politically biased, however it’s fascinating to see that Musk is now coming round to seeing that base logic.

Perhaps that may shade his future adjustments. Most likely not.

5. Banning Hyperlinks to Different Social Apps

Twitter additionally banned links to selected competing social platforms for just a few hours on Sunday, earlier than reversing course fairly rapidly resulting from huge backlash.

This was dumb coverage, which Twitter seemingly acknowledged by eradicating all references to it fairly quick. Basically, Twitter sought to ban all hyperlinks to Fb, Instagram, Mastodon, Reality Social, Tribel, Nostr and Put up.

Why these apps? Why not YouTube, or TikTok?

I am guessing its as a result of Elon noticed customers tweeting hyperlinks to those various platforms the place customers might observe them, as they seemed to leap ship from Twitter. Mastodon is the most blatant wrongdoer right here, however I am additionally guessing that Elon has been in contact with Meta, and that that assembly didn’t go nicely, therefore the inclusion of IG and Fb.

Nostr is a favorite of former Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, and Put up is just about a carbon copy of Twitter.

Why not YouTube? Properly, YouTube’s dad or mum firm, Google, might return fireplace by refusing to index tweets in Google Search, which might be a giant drawback for Musk and Co.

Why not TikTok? Elon’s different firm, Tesla, is pretty reliant on the Chinese market.

Like Elon’s different adjustments, this one appeared fairly shaded by private bias. And on condition that it was probably in violation of EU rules, and will have led to antitrust and different penalties, it is smart for Twitter to maneuver on and faux that it by no means occurred.

And regardless of all the noise, that’s truly it. Twitter hasn’t truly applied many adjustments at all – which is smart whenever you additionally think about the workers cuts, and the influence these have had on the platform’s capability to function.

Twitter has hinted at ad-reduced and ad-free subscription tiers, it’s exploring longer tweets and longer video uploads. It’s accelerating the roll out Community Notes, as a method to offer extra, user-sourced perspective on divisive tweets, whereas it additionally works on new ad placement controls, whereas Musk has additionally hinted at bringing back Vine.  

However for all the noise, for all the media protection, for all the dialogue that Musk has generated in his time as ‘Chief Twit’, he hasn’t truly modified something a lot. Like, at all.

Which as soon as once more underlines Elon’s true ability and power – he’s very, excellent at producing media consideration, and basically proudly owning the media cycle, by simply his tweets.

Tesla has by no means had an promoting division because of this, as a result of they don’t want one, with Elon all the time in a position to exit, say one thing outlandish, and convey the media to him, like pigeons scrambling for scraps.

Which may be Elon’s most precious trait, and for a social platform, which depends on getting folks to return and listen to the newest, that, at least in principle, may very well be very precious.

The problem for Elon then is that he must hold developing with controversial issues to say, in order to maintain triggering mass protection, bringing extra folks to the app.

Which may be working so far, however as Elon continues to stoke political division, and skirt the edges of social platform rules, it does look like, ultimately, it’s going to come to a head.

Which can be why now is an efficient time for Elon to step away, if he does so, although regardless of him stepping again, that also does not imply he will not be in management of the app. 

Elon taking a backseat is smart, if he does it. And his previous historical past doesn’t recommend that he is overly nice at taking a extra passive function at his corporations.

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