Self-proclaimed 'Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator'
Elon Musk hosted a question-and-answer session on Twitter
Spaces on Wednesday night, where he addressed queries about his vision for the social media platform and advertisers' concerns'. He also gave some leads on the changes to expect.
The Q&A session, which was largely unstructured with him hopping from one topic to another, came as brands and advertising agencies
increasingly backed away from the social media platform.
Major advertisers like General Motors and General Mills have pulled their ads off Twitter following concerns about how the billionaire and Twitter's new owner could loosen content moderation rules on the service.
Musk warned "a lot of dumb things” might happen in the coming months as he transforms the company
and will be at fault if anything goes wrong because "the buck stops with me”.
From verification, and advertising to content moderation, here’s a look at key takeaways from Elon Musk’s Twitter Spaces Q&A:
“Someone has to have a phone, a credit card and $8 a month. That’s the bar,” Musk said. He has been moving quickly to make changes in the Twitter app, which has created confusion. On Wednesday evening, he "killed" a new "official" label for some big Twitter accounts on the very day it began rolling out.
During the Twitter Spaces session, he said, “We’re aspirationally not dumb. How will we make radical improvements if we don’t try bold moves? When we make a dumb move, we correct it quickly — that’s what matters.”
He explained that by verifying as many users as possible and charging them for the “privilege,” it will become difficult for posts of unverified users to crop up.
– Fake accounts/trolls: Musk said that creating a fake account is extremely cheap, maybe about a tenth of a penny. Anyone who wants to create fake accounts has the budget to create a million fake handles, but they won’t have a million credit cards and phones, and that’s where the efficiency of the paid verification service comes to play, he explained.
“By charging $8 a month, it raises the cost of a bot or troll by somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000,” he said, adding that he sees a paywall as the best way to mitigate 'noisy' hateful conduct on the platform.
– Reach of tweets:
Noting that soon it will be more difficult to see posts from users who don’t pay to be verified, Musk
said, over time, mentions and replies of verified handles “will be defaulted to the highly, highly relevant category.” He said that people would still be able to look at unverified ones, but like a probable spam folder in Gmail.
Contradicting his stance, he reiterated though that he doesn't “like the lord and peasants situation where some people have blue checks, and some don’t”.
– Content moderation: Besides verification, Musk said more measures and tools would soon be coming to moderate content.
He said there’s a difference between freedom of speech and freedom of reach. Therefore, the idea is not to amplify inappropriate content. “It's a moral call.”
— Message for brands and advertisers: The billionaire said the result of doing the right thing (verification, suspension of fake accounts, etc.) would be that more people would sign up, use the platform for a longer duration, and when they look back and don't regret that time, and that’s how advertising and brands benefit.
"People should look back on Twitter and consider it to be a good thing in the world," he said, adding he was aiming to stop fake accounts on the platform. "If an account is engaged in trickery, we will suspend it," he said, and that Twitter aimed to be truthful, interesting, and entertaining.
Musk concluded by saying that the best way to understand what's going on with Twitter is to use it.