Since announcing his intention to take over Twitter in a $44 billion deal, Elon Musk has had plenty of time to elaborate on his ideas for transforming the platform.
Cracking down on spam, increasing premium users, and adding payment functions (perhaps even in Dogecoin) are all ideas that have been floated by the billionaire Tesla CEO.
The deal itself remains up in the air, with Musk saying that the deal ‘cannot move forward’ pending further details of spambots on the platform, even as he committed $33.5 billion to his takeover bid.
Throughout, he’s continued to discuss his intentions for Twitter, telling fellow tech big-wigs on the All-In podcast there was potential for the platform to become a WeChat-style ‘super app’, with multiple functions in one place.
If all these grand ideas come to fruition—and the deal itself is done—what could the Twitter of Elon Musk look like?
Freedom of speech
Perhaps the most (appropriately) talked-about aspect of Musk’s takeover bid has been free speech. Twitter’s prospective new owner has repeatedly underscored the need for what he calls a “digital town square”.
Musk has clarified that his pursuit of free speech means being “against censorship that goes far beyond the law”. So that could mean the new Twitter will have refreshed moderation rules and could see the return of familiar faces—Musk has already said he would reinstate Donald Trump’s account.
By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law.
I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.
If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.
Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
He’s also claimed that were he to take ownership of Twitter, it would be “geared towards the middle 80% of the population,” leaving both the far right and the far left “dissatisfied.”
While free speech has been the most headline-grabbing of Musk’s ideas, it is the elimination of spam bots that he has fingered as his top priority. The issue is the current hold-up on the deal, with Musk suggesting that the company’s estimate that only 5% of its daily active users are bots is too low.
Twitter’s machine-learning methods already detect and challenge between 5 to 10 million accounts every week, according to a blog post from last year. But Musk thinks he can do better.
Without bots, what would the platform be like? Judging by recent Twitter purges of automated accounts, most people’s follower count would take a hit. By one estimate, Musk himself could lose half his own followers.
For Musk one of the goals appears to be fewer scams, including crypto scams. At TED 2022, in Vancouver, he said that bots and “scam armies” make Twitter “much worse.”
"If I had a Dogecoin for every crypto scam I see, I'd have 100 billion Dogecoins."
Twitter Blue, which costs $3 a month, was introduced last year as the platform’s first-ever subscription offering. It offers various extra features for paying users such as bookmarks folders and a 30-second ‘undo tweet’ button.
Musk has said, in a since-deleted tweet, that anyone who pays for the service should also get a blue “verified” check mark, though he clarified that these should appear different to the badges Twitter already gives out to users it deems active and notable. He has also said the site should be ad-free for subscribers.
With a goal of 69 million Twitter Blue users by 2025, Musk is certainly confident that whatever changes he makes to the premium option—and to the platform at large—will make it worth paying for.
Dogecoin and NFTs
And as for how you’ll be charged for that Twitter Blue membership? Musk has suggested on Twitter that there might be an option to pay in Dogecoin, the meme coin that he's championed on the platform.
However, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’s serious about that.
One thing he’s not impressed by is Twitter’s recent adoption of NFT profile pictures, calling it “annoying” in a tweet and arguing that it was a waste of engineering resources that could be better spent targeting crypto scammers.
Twitter is spending engineering resources on this bs while crypto scammers are throwing a spambot block party in every thread!?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 21, 2022
Users could expect to see some kind of payments feature added to Twitter if Musk takes the helm. The former Paypal CEO has said that combining multiple functions into one app, comparable to China’s WeChat, would be “really useful.”
When talking about the possibility on the All-In Podcast, Musk said payments could be one part of the offering for such a platform, “whether it’s crypto or fiat.”
However, he also said that converting Twitter into this "super app" was just one option, with the alternative being to build a new app from scratch.
As for the fate of former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s efforts to "develop an open and decentralized standard for social media", this project is not set to be affected by Musk’s Twitter takeover.
Project Bluesky, which is exploring elements of crypto and Web3, says that it is owned by employees and therefore not subject to the whims—or the ownership—of Twitter.
Taking to Twitter, the people behind the venture said: “Both Twitter and Bluesky realized that our independence is important to the success of the project, which is why we established an independent company to ensure that we serve the broadest possible interests.”