Fight or Flight: How the Musk Acquisition May Affect Twitter

One of my earliest memories of Twitter making an immediate impact on the Irish news agenda was in 2010 when Simon Coveney, then an opposition TD, tweeted about an interview with Taoiseach Brian Cowen on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

That tweet has since been deleted, but I remember how strange it felt to have political correspondents at a Fianna Fáil “thinking” and asking the Taoiseach about a story that had originated in a place we probably still felt the need to explain was “a pop mic”. blog site.

Twelve years later, Twitter now plays a central role in generating and spreading news, both here and internationally.

Public figures, including politicians, use their accounts to send their messages directly to followers, although these tweets have a much less “spontaneous” tone than in days past.

Most journalists use the platform to break news or simply bookmark the stories they are covering that day.

Meanwhile, virtually every news organization has its own official account designed both to attract consumers and send them back to where the news originated.

However, like any other social media platform, “News Twitter” has its limitations and flaws.

Sometimes stories come to life because they’re “big on Twitter” and the cycle can move at breakneck speed, allowing issues to flare up, flare up, and then fade away, with no time for nuanced discussion.

And, along with other social media platforms, Twitter has also seen the spread of misinformation and disinformation, although the company has developed a comprehensive policy. designed to deal with this.

Twitter remains hugely popular with news creators and consumers alike, and the revelation that tech entrepreneur Elon Musk was going to buy the platform led many to question its future and their own interactions with it, even using hashtags like #leavetwitter. and #deletetwitter on the site. itself.

So what could your purchase of Twitter mean for those who consume news on the platform and those who provide content to it?

Musk has spoken of his desire to encourage “freedom of speech,” but this is a highly nuanced phrase that has a lot to do with the individual speaker’s perspective and their definition of the word “freedom.”

The Tesla billionaire described Twitter as a “digital town square,” and this may be true at times, but the site can also be a vicious place.

Especially for women and people of color and public figures who can be trolled and attacked in a way that just couldn’t happen in the non-digital, dare we call it real? – world.

Since news of the purchase was announced, Musk has sent out a series of tweets, but these have served to confuse rather than clarify his position.

He speaks, for example, of the “Government” passing laws on freedom of expression, but does not explain how this would work in an international context.

Shane Creevy is Managing Editor of Kinzen, a company that works with clients on issues including disinformation and hate speech, helping them make decisions about safety online and in the real world.

However, he says that if Musk’s Twitter deal goes through, there are concerns the platform could become an unmoderated space, where legitimate voices could be drowned out.

He feels this will leave journalists and organizations facing a difficult decision about whether to stay on the platform.

It also points out that if attacks on public figures and journalists increase, it will be necessary to invest in both mental health and physical support for those affected.

Elon Musk has spoken out about free speech, but that speech can, as Creevy puts it, be “legal but horrible,” technically legal but still include racism, sexism, or other unwanted elements.

However, at the time of this writing, all of the millions of words that have been written, broadcast and, yes, tweeted about the Musk takeover remain in the realm of speculation.

In the last 24 hours, he has tweeted about buying Coca Cola (to put cocaine back in), Donald Trump’s own social channel (it should be called Trumpet, he opined), and making Twitter “the ultimate fun.”

In the meantime, perhaps another platform will emerge that promises to deliver news directly to those who seek it?

But there is little to indicate Musk’s concrete plans other than mention of free speech and political neutrality.

The proposed deal could take three to six months to complete and it has now emerged that either party could terminate the deal with a $1 billion payout, a mere fraction of the $44 billion purchase price.

So both public figures and news organizations are likely to take a ‘wait and see’ approach for the time being.

If the deal goes through and the repercussions are as feared, then tough decisions will have to be made about who wants to partner with a platform that could harbor extreme political views and harassment.

Elon Musk could even decide to impose a fee on users of the site, which would have an impact on the business models of the organizations that use it to host their material.

But there are many more tweets to write before the future of the platform is decided.

In the meantime, perhaps another platform will emerge that promises to deliver news directly to those who seek it?

Or perhaps news consumers decide that the constant barrage of information has become too stressful and, in an age of #bekind and #calm, it would be easier on the nerves to wait for a top-of-the-hour news bulletin or even daily, one minute past six.

In a world where billionaires make soda jokes that become international news, stranger things have happened.

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