If Elon Musk wants Twitter to be financially stable, he has his work cut out for him. However, Musk himself appears to be one of the most significant obstacles to turning things around. The businessman has maintained from the beginning of his on-again-off-again pursuit of Twitter which concluded in a $44 billion acquisition that was finalized last week, that he is capable of doing a significantly better job of operating the company than its former management.
Musk has also stated that he will allow conservative political and policy perspectives, which he claims have been censored on Twitter, access to the network. Musk is correct in his assessment. Conservative political discourse has occasionally clashed with Twitter’s rules and algorithms. Any chance Musk has to make good on his promise to generate additional income from user fees is being undermined by his ego and his erratic speech habits.
On the topic of free speech, Elon Musk has declared himself an absolutist. It’s not often clear whether Musk’s outlandish statements are meant to be taken seriously or are merely his way of justifying his strong views on civil freedoms.
Last Saturday, it appeared more likely that the latter was the case when Musk shared (and then deleted) a tweet with an unfounded conspiracy theory about the brutal attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On the surface, this is really unsettling. Furthermore, this could make it harder for Musk to discover ways to change the site’s most dedicated users for access. Musk began the week by indicating that verified users would have to pay $20 a month to keep their blue badge, a price that was later cut to $8.
An executive with more forethought could have given the strategy a fighting chance. However, Musk’s actions have turned off many Twitter users, who have claimed that contributing to a business led by Musk in exchange for the blue badge is essentially a mark of disgrace.
Twitter has rarely been profitable and was set to begin laying off employees on Friday, so the checkmark saga is unfortunate for more than that reason. It’s also a problem for convincing reasonable people that Musk was right to complain about the censorship of his speech.
Historically, conservatives have been critical of how Twitter dealt with users who broke the rules before the Musk era. They claim that the firm secretly censored right-wing and contentious viewpoints through a practice known as “shadowbanning,” in which algorithms are used to reduce a user’s visibility on the site.
They say Covid, Racism and Transgender Policies have been Shadowbanned or Suspended
Musk’s blue-badge gamble is difficult even in the best of scenarios. It’s true that many journalists and other influential people have grown to rely on the blue checkmark as a symbol of trustworthiness. Still, there are plenty of other highly followed users who have been successful without it.
Even before the ink announcing Musk’s takeover had dried, a conservative commenter going by the handle “@Catturd2” chimed in, saying, “Report…day one of @elonmusk owning Twitter. To gauge the efficacy of this strategy, I plan to repeat this procedure daily. As usual, Twitter has erased 1200 of my followers today after I was shadowbanned, ghost banned and search-banned. Nothing new to share — check in with me tomorrow.
Do you believe @elonmusk is going to restore all the unfairly banned accounts tomorrow?
— Catturd ™ (@catturd2) November 27, 2022
Quickly, Musk tweeted back to @Catturd2, “I will be digging in more today.”
With over 959k followers, @Catturd2 is a social media force to be reckoned with. However, the pre-Musk Twitter policy didn’t allow for a blue badge for @Catturd2 because the handle uses a pseudonym. The response from Musk demonstrates how influential the account is. Without the need for blue-badge legitimacy, there are countless other Twitter accounts with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of followers who think their messages are informative and reliable.
It’s not apparent what Musk can provide these individuals in exchange for their user experience as long as they may post. While this is going on, why would current blue-badged users want to donate to a CEO who clearly has the propensity to spoil his ideological soulmates?
I don’t know what I love more about @elonmusk Twitter, the unfettered free speech or watching the Libs meltdown over the unfettered free speech…Both so delightful!
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) November 27, 2022
Musk hopes to sway public opinion and increase Twitter’s profits. Rival business tycoons Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Bezos can relate to how challenging it may be. Both Murdoch and Bezos have large media outlets (the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News respectively) where they publish and broadcast their opinions on the world. However, it is unusual to hear any of them comment on their own policies.
They likely see the value of separating themselves as owners from their media’s reputation for practical reasons. Musk, on the other hand, considers himself the brand and strives to have his name associated with all of his creations.
For Tesla and SpaceX that was a successful strategy. However, Twitter has the potential to teach him the boundaries of such an approach very soon.
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