Elon Musk has big plans for Twitter.
On April 26, 2022, Twitter accepted Musk’s offer to purchase the social media company for around $44 billion. The platform agreed to sell itself for $54.20 a share, a 38 percent premium over the company’s share price. A month before the announcement, Musk revealed that he was already Twitter’s largest shareholder.
For years, Musk has been an active Twitter user. He has spoken about the platform’s potential as well as complained about its limitations, features, and policies. Now that Musk has purchased the microblogging platform and added it to the many companies he owns, he intends to make some major changes.
These are the changes Elon Musk plans to make to Twitter.
How Elon Musk Wants to Change Twitter
1. Add an Edit Button…Finally
One of the most requested Twitter features that the platform avoided developing for years is the edit button. The demand for the ability to edit a posted tweet is so widely known that it has become a meme. Twitter’s founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey believed the edit button for Twitter would remain a dream. He expressed concern that an edit button could let users change a tweet’s meaning after it gets widely shared, and in 2020 he said Twitter would “probably never” add the feature.
However, in April 2022, Twitter announced that it planned to begin testing the feature with Twitter Blue subscribers in “the coming months.”
Now that Elon Musk has purchased the microblogging platform, he insists that adding an edit feature will be one of the changes he implements. Musk first mentioned the need for an edit button when he posted a tweet and then needed to post another one to correct a typo.
I meant lämpe. Where’s the edit function when you really need it!?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2019
He also polled his followers and asked if they wanted an edit feature to be added. Seventy-four percent of the over 4 million respondents voted for the addition of an edit function.
Musk envisions his edit feature working a little differently than those of other social media profiles. Instead of editing a post at any time without change, Musk’s version would come with some restrictions.
“I think you only have the edit capability for a short period of time, and zero out all retweets and favorites,” Musk said at a TED conference in 2022.
Loosen Community Guidelines Surrounding Free Speech
Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.
Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2022
The SpaceX CEO has been critical of social media platforms’ regulation features and tactics. In one of his most popular tweets, Musk states, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.” He follows by asking his followers if they think Twitter adheres to that principle.
He has also stated publicly that Twitter should not regulate content beyond what is required by the laws of the countries it operates in. Many feel that it will be challenging, however, to allow free speech while suppressing the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and fake news that has been prevalent in the past.
2. Get Rid of Bots
One of the challenges that Twitter has had difficulty overcoming is the vast number of bots and fake accounts. Twitter bots are accounts that are programmed to respond automatically to tweets on certain topics.
A week before Twitter accepted Musk’s bid to buy the company, he tweeted, “If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” He has also called these types of Twitter bots “the single most annoying problem” on the platform.
3. Take the Company Private
Twitter started as a privately held company. The first shares were held by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Noah Glass, and Evan Williams. In November 2013, Twitter shareholders took the company public. The initial public offering was one of the most anticipated IPOs of that year. Since then, the stock has not performed as well as its rival platform Facebook.
Now it seems that the era of Twitter being a public company has ended, as the company will be privately held in the near future. In the press release, the board announced, “Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.”
Ultimately, what this means is that Musk will have much more control over Twitter and how it operates. Musk has vowed to use his authority to enhance the platform and unlock its potential.
4. Switch to a Subscription Model
Currently, like many other user-generated platforms, Twitter generates most of its revenue from advertisements. Ninety percent of Twitter’s revenue comes from its advertising options.
Although this has worked out well for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, Twitter has lagged behind. This may be due to the fact that platforms like Facebook and YouTube enjoy a user base that is well over 2 billion each, while Twitter has only been able to attract 436 million users.
Musk has made statements about changing Twitter’s business model from advertising to subscription. Twitter currently has a subscription model called Twitter Blue. The membership allows users to utilize additional features.
Twitter Blue members can customize their user interface, delay tweets from sending for 30 seconds, organize bookmarks, use a ‘reader’ that makes long threads look like articles, and add their nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as verified profile pictures. A Twitter Blue membership is currently $2.99 per month, which Musk has stated is too high.
It may be difficult to get current users to pay for additional features if they do not feel as though they are getting value from their subscription. But paid features like an edit button and a lower premium price point may help sway some users to upgrade.
5. Make the Algorithm Open-Source
Elon Musk feels that, with a platform like Twitter, transparency is vital. One way he wants to accomplish this is by making the algorithms that control the platform open-source. By making the algorithms public, anyone can view what actions cause which reactions on the platform.
However, the algorithms that dominate social media and search engine platforms are extremely complicated. These complex algorithms often puzzle the engineers who designed them about how exactly they operate.
During a TED event in Vancouver, Musk echoed his belief that Twitter’s algorithm should be more transparent. He said that transparency would be good for the platform so that, as he states, “there’s no sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.”
6. Long-Form Tweets
Another often-stated critique of Twitter is the limited number of characters available. While this was one of Twitter’s unique features, users have complained that Twitter’s 280-character limit is not enough. Musk himself has complained about this as well.
On April 15, 2022, he tweeted, “My most immediate takeaway from this novella of a thread is that Twitter is *way* overdue for long form tweets!”
My most immediate takeaway from this novella of a thread is that Twitter is *way* overdue for long form tweets!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2022