The Business Times

Musk sparks debate on content accuracy with new vision for Twitter

Published Mon, Nov 7, 2022 · 10:56 PM

TWITTER’S new chief executive officer Elon Musk has said the social media platform’s mission was to become the most accurate source of information about the world, sparking debate about how it would achieve that, and who determines what is accurate.

A flurry of drastic measures, including sacking half the staff and charging new users since his US$44 billion takeover of the company a week ago, has provided some early clues as to how the platform will be reshaped by the world’s richest person.

Some advertisers on the platform have pulled spending since the deal was announced, with Musk blaming pressure from activist groups concerned about its content moderation.

“Twitter needs to become by far the most accurate source of information about the world. That is our mission,” he said on Sunday (Nov 6).

His tweet instantly triggered tens of thousands of replies, and provoked lively debates on how this mission will be achieved. “Accurate to whom?” Twitter founder and former chief executive officer Jack Dorsey asked.

Musk, who also runs electric vehicle company Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX, said last month that Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints”.


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The self-described free-speech absolutist said at the time that no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.

He also said Twitter users engaging in impersonation, without clearly specifying it as a “parody” account, will be permanently suspended without a warning.

The comment came as Kathy Griffin’s account was banned after the US comedian changed her name to Elon Musk. The #FreeKathy hashtag was later circulating on Twitter.

“I guess not all content moderators were let go? LOL,” she joked in a post on Mastodon, an alternative to Twitter and other social media sites which she joined last week.

Musk said Twitter previously issued a warning before suspension, but as it is rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning as well as “no exceptions”.

“This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue,” Musk said, adding that any name change at all will cause temporary loss of the verified checkmark.

American actress Valerie Bertinelli also used Musk’s name to post a series of tweets in support of Democratic candidates ahead of the midterm elections in the US this week. She switched back to her name on Sunday, tweeting: “Okey-dokey, I have had my fun and I think I made my point.”

Twitter on Saturday updated its app in Apple’s App Store to begin charging US$8 for the sought-after blue check verification marks, as it seeks to shore up revenue.

Benefits of the verification service would include “half the ads”, the ability to post longer videos to Twitter, and priority ranking for quality content, it said.

But earlier on Sunday, The New York Times reported that Twitter is delaying the rollout of verification check marks to subscribers of its new service until after Tuesday’s midterm elections.

In a sign of more confusion after Musk’s takeover, Twitter is now reaching out to dozens of employees who lost their jobs, and is asking them to return, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.

Some of those who are being asked to return were laid off by mistake. Others were let go before management realised that their work and experience may be necessary to build the new features Musk envisions, the report said, citing people familiar with the moves.

Twitter did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment about the rehiring efforts. REUTERS



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