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Twitter’s future still uncertain in wake of Musk changes

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Since Elon Musk purchased Twitter, it has come with a series of changes that have caused users to question the platform’s future and safety.

Though these changes have been met with backlash from advertisers and users alike, Twitter continues to dominate the social media landscape, and its future remains unclear. 

 How the platform manages its content moderation is key to its continued dominance, said UH assistant professor of journalism and media studies Prashanth Bhat.

“It’s not a side issue, it’s the main issue. It has consequences and implications for democracy, public discourse and safety as well,” Bhat said. “This will have implications for the news cycle and the quality of the election rhetoric.” 

Musk purchased the popular social media platform in late October. Since then, the company has undergone significant employee turnover.  Aside from issuing major layoffs shortly after acquiring the company, many employees have quit in the wake of Musk’s takeover. 

Despite staffing turmoil, Musk continues to make major alterations to the platform and how it handles content. Recently, this has involved relaxing content restrictions, such as the site’s hate-speech and COVID-19 disinformation policies

These changes have put Twitter in a tough position as advertisers have begun to roll back their marketing on the site in fear of being associated with extremist content, Bhat said.

“No brand or advertiser wants to be associated with a platform that’s known for hate speech. So obviously, it’s that pressure that forced Twitter to come up with stricter content moderation policies,” Bhat said. “Advertising can have an effect on Twitter’s content moderation policy, so they’d be forced to clamp down on hate speech.” 

Although no social media platform has ever been a safe place, Bhat said, Twitter had slowly progressed into a safer environment but is now regressing to its old ways.

Content moderation aside, another controversial decision has been Musk’s move to allow users to pay for verification. This move could affect the credibility of journalists and bring more misinformation to the platform, said adjunct professor of communication studies Katishia Trigg. 

“When you are just handing out checks in exchange for money, there’s potential for more misinformation to spread, more scams and more issues. I think there’s a lot more concern for privacy,” Trigg said. 

Musk’s takeover has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. Critics have questioned his decision-making, but Trigg believes this was all part of the plan to generate a buzz and is not concerned for Twitter’s future. 

“I don’t think Twitter is going anywhere. Right now, many people are curious and now seeking Twitter to see what Elon’s going to do,” Trigg said. “This may be a way for him to compete with some of the other social media outlets that have the attention of the younger generation.” 

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