Twitter Inc's new CEO Elon Musk said on Sunday 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.
Elon Musk, the newly appointed CEO of Twitter Inc., on Sunday stated that the goal of the social media platform was to become the most accurate information source about the world, which sparked discussion over how it would accomplish this goal and who gets to decide what is correct.
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A flurry of drastic measures undertaken by Musk since he acquired Twitter in a $44 billion purchase just about a week ago, including firing half the staff and charging users, have given some early hints as to how the network may be changed by the richest person in the world.
Since the deal's announcement, several advertisers have reduced their expenditure. Musk accuses activist groups of exerting pressure on the industry because of worries over the deal's content filtering.
"Twitter needs to become by far the most accurate source of information about the world. That’s our mission," Musk said on Sunday.
His tweet instantly triggered tens of thousands of replies and provoked lively debates on how the mission will be achieved.
"Accurate to who?" Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey asked.
Musk, who also runs electric vehicle company Tesla and rocket firm SpaceX, said last month Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with "widely diverse viewpoints".
The self-described free speech absolutist said at the time that no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.
Musk also said on Sunday that Twitter users engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying it as a "parody" account will be permanently suspended without a warning.
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He said Twitter previously issued a warning before the suspension, but as Twitter 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 any name change at all will cause a temporary loss of the verified checkmark.
Comedian Kathy Griffin had her account suspended Sunday after she switched her screen name to Musk. She told a Bloomberg reporter that she had also used his profile photo.
“I guess not ALL the content moderators were let go? Lol,” Griffin joked afterwards on Mastodon, an alternative social media platform where she set up an account last week.
Actor Valerie Bertinelli had similarly appropriated Musk's screen name — posting a series of tweets in support of Democratic candidates on Saturday before switching back to her true name. “Okey-dokey. I've had fun and I think I made my point,” she tweeted afterwards.
Before the stunt, Bertinelli noted the original purpose of the blue verification checkmark. It was granted free of charge to people whose identity Twitter employees had confirmed; with journalists accounting for a big portion of recipients.
Twitter on Saturday updated its app in Apple's App Store to begin charging $8 for 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, Twitter said.
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However, The New York Times on Sunday had claimed that Twitter would wait until after Tuesday's midterm elections to begin rolling out verification checkmarks to users of its new service.
In a sign of more confusion after Musk's takeover, Twitter is now reaching out to dozens of employees who lost their jobs and 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.
(With agency inputs)