Can we still trust Twitter under Musk? – Prism

Experts say that the “arbitrary” decisions of the new owner will have serious consequences; paid verification will make it harder to get news, affecting vulnerable groups who use social media to amplify their voices.

“Yep, just fooled by the new Twitter verification system where the new owners, who care about ‘accuracy’, allow people to pretend they’re trustworthy.”

These were the words New York Times Great political speaker and CNN analyst, Maggie Haberman, after retweeting the news from a verified account earlier this month, ESPN’s NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.

Those familiar with Ms. Haberman’s work call her a “name” in political reporting. However, Elon Musk was none the wiser amid the turmoil following his Twitter takeover.

It all started when Musk entered Twitter’s headquarters with a sink – he hilariously wanted to “let it sink”.

In a series of decisions since then, he has fired about half the company, asked the rest to “shut down” and revealed plans to “lower the guard” on content moderation, prompting mass resignations.

The “Blue Tick” saga

When he unveiled his paid-for review plan, those decisions seemed trivial. The idea was that anyone could have a “blue tick” of authenticity in their name can pay $8 per month.

The move had the consequences almost everyone expected—except Musk, it seems.

Accounts impersonating world leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair, and giant conglomerates like Eli Lilly, Nestle, and Lockheed Martin, started tweeting strange things with a blue tick above their names.

As it turned out, they were tweets from real accounts, so it was easy enough to believe that former US President Bush was “missing out on killing Iraqis”.

While the feature was discontinued amid a surge in parody accounts, it exacerbated the disinformation crisis on the platform, where fake news is 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories, according to a 2018 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. .

“When a seemingly legitimate account posts content intended to mislead people, the repercussions will be severe,” said Hija Kamran, a digital rights activist, explaining the consequences of disinformation and disinformation through verified accounts.

With results proving the move was less thought-out than Musk had hoped, he only reversed it announce a new date a few days later — November 29. Later, on November 22, he tweeted that the reboot was on hold until there was “high confidence in stopping the imitation.”

“This case shows what happens when the accountability incentives of an important part of the public sphere shift for the worse,” said Prateek Waghre, policy director of the Internet Freedom Foundation in India.

This will have “reckless consequences” for communities around the world that rely on Twitter to make their voices heard, he said.

‘Soft’ moderation

Twitter’s fast-paced changes create challenges that extend beyond the platform’s boundaries. Experts worry about Twitter’s ability to maintain its core functionality amid massive layoffs and layoffs.

according to New York Times, many of the employees who quit were members of trust and public safety teams, critical engineering teams, and contractors working on content moderation and data science.

Experts say a hacked Twitter will create problems in managing content related to hate speech and security concerns, especially in the global south – a region that has been deliberately ignored by the social media giants when it comes to moderation.

Mishi Choudhary, founder of the India-based Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), says Musk has exacerbated existing problems with his “arrogant and overbearing nature.”

“Although it relies on a small staff, mostly foreign workers, we have not seen any concern about how this mess will affect vulnerable communities around the world,” said the founder of, which has a team of volunteers including lawyers. , analysts and technologists who advocate for digital freedoms.

For Choudhary, social media platforms, including Twitter, want to enter markets but are least concerned about the problems faced by users outside the US or Europe.

Content moderation issues predate Musk, but like his predecessors, he won’t be able to do much to fix them.

When he originally agreed to buy the company in April, Musk said he wanted to promote “free speech” on the platform. He also said he thinks Twitter should be more “reluctant to delete stuff” and “be very careful with permanent bans.”

After taking over the company, he told the world in October that Twitter would have a “content moderation board” with “diverse views.”

And while he didn’t elaborate on what those thoughts would be, Musk assured users that no major decisions about content moderation or account reinstatement will be made before that board meets.

Less than a month after the announcement, it reinstated former US President Donald Trump’s account after 51.8 percent of users said “yes” to a poll to bring Trump back.

Following the poll’s success, Musk ran another poll on November 23, asking users if they would be offered a “general amnesty” for suspended accounts “provided they don’t break the law or engage in massive spam.”

When 72.4 pc users voted yes, he simply tweeted “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”. [the voice of the people is the voice of God]”, adding that the “amnesty” will start next week.

For pundits closely following what’s happening inside Twitter, it was a sign of what the platform will look like under Musk’s leadership.

“Looks like he’s into it. It’s appalling that many of the most violent and aggressive followers of ppl and those spreading anti-LGBTQ hate, misogyny and misinformation are being met with open arms.” The Washington Post by technology columnist TaylorLorenz.

The concern is not without reason. Before Trump, Mr. Musk revived the accounts of author Jordan Peterson and the conservative satire publication. Babylonian beeboth were suspended for problematic tweets.

“[The] restoration [Donald] Trump, the chief disinformation officer, is proof that Mr. Musk does not yet understand the importance of Twitter for disseminating information,” Choudhry said.

For now, Mr. Musk’s one new policy against disinformation. He calls it “freedom of speech, not freedom of speech.”

“Negative/hateful tweets will be minimized and demonetized, so no advertising or other revenue to Twitter,” he tweeted, as were his other decisions.

Again, he gave no parameters as to what would constitute hatred or negativity.

Issue of cancellations sought by the State

Arbitrary and unclear moderation standards also raise concerns about how Twitter will handle requests from powerful states to remove content under Musk’s leadership.

Last year, Reuters Twitter reported that in 2020, it saw an increase in government requests to remove content posted by journalists and news outlets around the world. Most of the withdrawal requests were submitted by India, followed by Turkey, Pakistan and Russia.

It remains to be seen how Musk will comply with those requests, but Waghre said that given Twitter’s apparently “discretionary” decision-making right now, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the company complies.

He added that it is not unusual for companies to balk at governments’ demands for greater access to major markets.

“Similarly, it’s not unusual for business owners with multiple business interests to use one to gain leverage over another,” he said of Musk, who owns other businesses, including a vehicle and spacecraft company.


Users can also check if an account has been verified or paid for against the previous criteria by clicking on the icon.

A quick look at past tweets, history of joining Twitter, type of media posted and likes will give a fair idea of ​​the authority of the account.

The BBC’s disinformation and social media correspondent Marianna Spring suggested that users visit official websites to follow links to real social media profiles.

Musk’s plans and US regulators

For now, Musk is moving forward with his ideas, no matter how obscure. But with each passing day, his actions attract attention, even if they have no consequences so far.

The On November 10, the US Federal Trade Commission said it was “following the recent events on Twitter with deep concern.”

Privacy and data security concerns may also prompt congressional scrutiny. US Senator Edward Markey was displeased afterwards The Washington Post the reporter opened a fake account in his name and paid $8 to be verified. Mask warned If he didn’t “fix” his companies, “Congress will.”

Last week, seven Democratic senators also wrote to the FTC, warning that Twitter “acted with disregard for users.” The letter called for the FTC to investigate any violations of the consent decree it signed with Twitter. Reuters informed.

However, Kamran has little hope of any congressional investigation, as social media executives such as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg have avoided such hearings in the past.

Even if US or EU regulators manage to crack down on the company, it’s unlikely to make a difference to the experience of users outside those regions.

“Mr Musk, like a few of these [social media] platforms, concentrated in the United States. When the Commission reins in them through regulation, they pay some attention to the EU,” said Choudhary.

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