Earlier this year, Elon Musk made Twitter an offer it couldn’t refuse. His proposal to buy the company for $44 billion, or $54.20 per share, was initially viewed as a joke. Not only was it a considerable overvaluation of the company, but it also included the number “420,” a reference to marijuana that has gotten Musk in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the past.
As time went on, the seriousness of his offer became evident. The Musk takeover received the blessing of the company’s board and co-founder Jack Dorsey. The fate of Twitter eventually made its way to a vote by its shareholders, who approved the deal.
I was one of the approximately 98.6% of shareholders who voted in favor of the acquisition. I did it for one reason, Twitter has been broken for many years, and Musk brought the issues to light.
While everyone is talking about the end of Twitter, I’ve honestly seen the opposite. Twitter is downsizing, reorganizing and getting back to business.
The users finally have more say about what happens on the site, and that’s a good thing. Musk being active on his platform, taking input and listening to users is a noticeable difference from most other social media companies and their CEOs. Because of this, we’ve seen changes many have requested for years.
Bots are getting removed. I could barely check my messages on Twitter without reading about some get-rich-quick strategy, new crypto coins or hundreds of other types of spam that have made their way into my Twitter DMs over the years.
Since the takeover, this has tamped down. I and others have also noticed a drop in followers accompanied by a lower predicted number of bots on reports from websites like Twitter Audit.
Verification is, thankfully, no longer a status symbol. For a long time, verification got treated as a status symbol on and off Twitter. This is different from the way verification should work. Verification should confirm an account that is run by the person it claims to be.
For some reason, the previous heads of Twitter and other social media companies don’t see a need to ensure people are who they say they are unless they reach some level of notoriety that is often not measured by specific rules or specifications.
I still have an issue with how Musk’s Twitter handles verification, though. First, I don’t agree with the eight-dollar fee; this should be a standard feature available to everyone, similar to how it is on apps such as Tinder. Also, accounts that don’t have a specific name attached to them should only be verifiable if they have some notability.
People are getting their accounts back; I’m not talking about the high-profile cases like Donald Trump or Andrew Tate, but people who have gotten banned for seemingly no reason.
Twitter is home to many accounts that post explicit content, yet insulting someone with a kindergarten-level insult has gotten people banned from the platform in the past. I’ve seen it often happen to accounts within the tech space and now some of those accounts are coming back.
One should also pay attention to the high-profile cases, especially since these could end up being the Achilles heel for Twitter.
In a tweet from Oct. 28, Musk announced that Twitter would create a content moderation council. Unfortunately, the tweet wasn’t clear on this council’s role. Still, it promised, “No major content discussions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.”
It appears that did not happen. Many controversial accounts have since been reinstated, including one that was involved in a recent controversy, @kanyewest, which was restricted after a series of antisemitic tweets.
Unlike banning, restricting is typically a temporary measure that would block an account from posting but wouldn’t remove the account or its tweets entirely. Access to West’s account was reportedly restored shortly after Musk gained control of Twitter, but in a tweet, Musk claimed that it had been restored prior.
Musk had previously said, “If in doubt, let the speech exist.” in regards to content moderation. While I generally agree with this, there does need to be some moderation guidelines that apply to everyone to ensure Twitter doesn’t evolve into a platform unattractive to most of its users.
Of course, these aren’t the only issues Twitter faces. In addition to many others, their business model still needs to be profitable, and content moderation needs to be more reliable. But the improvements we’ve seen signify the platform is getting better.
Changes won’t happen overnight, but I’m confident we will see a more user-friendly Twitter over time. Hopefully, users will stick around to see it.