A Very Musky Twitter

The saga of the Twitter takeover has been in the news cycle for some time now. Elon Musk was going to buy it, but then he wasn’t. Now, he’s taken the helm of the Twitter ship and is sailing into waters unknown. According to Houston Chronicle, “Among his first moves after completing his $44 billion takeover Thursday was to fire the social media platform’s top executives, including the woman in charge of trust and safety at the platform, Vijaya Gadde.

He also posted a conciliatory note to wary advertisers, assuring them he won’t allow Twitter to devolve into a “free-for-all hellscape.” From the get-go, he’d made it clear that he was going to overhaul the tech giant and make it what it was designed to be. However, many have wondered if he’s really up to running so many companies.

According to Business Insider, his first day at the top included firing top executives and a drastic jump in previously censored content such as hate speech. Trolls are testing the boundaries of free speech on the platform by posting content that is usually not permitted. Like toddlers, they will keep pushing the rules to determine how much their new Twitter parent will tolerate. Bloomberg reported, “In the wake of Elon Musk buying Twitter Inc., a tide of slurs and racist memes swelled on the platform, sparking concern that the site is entering an era of hateful speech.” Some felt it was a change for the better, others not so much. The Bloomberg article continued, “Twitter has long wrestled with how to enforce content policies fairly on its platform to appease the advertisers, users and powerful world leaders that use its service. But as Musk, a self-styled “free speech absolutist,” took over ownership of the company, some…saw reason to celebrate the change…” With the first amendment boldly at the front and center of his reason for purchasing Twitter, it remains unknown how he’ll deal with (if at all) the kinds of free speech often deemed inappropriate by various political factions.

In recent months, he’s tended towards courting the “right” as far as his politics go, but in all fairness, there’s no knowing exactly what he’ll do next. Will Twitter become a free-for-all? Probably not. Will it be complicated to deal with the trolls and bots? Absolutely. But he knew that before purchasing the company. Buyer beware, as they say, especially when buying a multi-billion dollar tech platform.

By Gretchen Hendrick Gardella, MLIS

Gretchen Hendrick Gardella is a Librarian with administrative, research, and vast technical skills. Ms. Gardella brings over 16 years of experience working in academic and public libraries to the discussion.