Musk Mania: What’s Next for Our Digital Town Square

As plans move forward for Musk’s $44 billion takeover of social networking app Twitter – or not? – current users and potential employees react to what changes could be coming to the world’s digital town square.

He is perhaps the most polarizing billionaire in the world, an inevitable perk, one can imagine, when you are also the richest man in the world. The Tesla CEO is not afraid to speak his mind, and his impulsive thoughts turned to action after speaking out against Twitter. He took the only logical next step: he bought the app so that he could fix it.

Musk Always Wins

Since he dropped out of Stanford, Mr. Musk has been a busy man. Although widely known for Tesla and SpaceX, his early forays into business were lucrative. His first professional venture was a travel guide service called Zip2 that he started in 1995.

Not long after, the computer company Compaq bought his start-up for $300 million. Then, in 1999, Mr. Musk was one of the founders of X.com, an online payments company that would become known by its more familiar name: PayPal.

His employees note his tendency to “wing it in the biggest moments.” That mixture of libertarianism and gambler’s whimsy has contributed to the mythology of Mr. Musk. His interest in Twitter may seem like small potatoes or a response to a petty squabble. Or perhaps he takes free speech more seriously than even our elected officials.

As we near his takeover of the social media platform, the question on everyone’s mind is: can he actually make Twitter better?

“Unfortunately, any perspective you have will be met with passionate discourse from the opposing side,” Isaac Mashman told Wealth of Geeks. The founder of Mashman Ventures has regularly used Twitter to market his business. “With an increase in transparency and making the code open-sourced, it will hopefully encourage healthy conversations, and trust will be restored.”

Few people have been more vocal about Twitter than Elon Musk. He has regularly called out the platform for not adhering to free speech practices. In March, he tweeted a poll: “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” 70.4% of voters said no.

At the end of April, he criticized Twitter again for falling behind the right-wing platform Truth Social in the app store. “Truth Social (terrible name) exists because Twitter censored free speech,” he tweeted.

His tweets are unique for a public figure in that he criticizes the right and the left equally. “The far left hates everyone, themselves included,” he tweeted before quickly replying to his own thread with, “But I’m no fan of the right either.”

He is a Tasmanian devil of chaos and intrigue, but how does that impact his other business ventures?

The Tesla Factor

To produce the $21 billion Mr. Musk needs to personally come up with for the Twitter buyout, he has already sold $8.5 billion worth of Tesla shares. Since he first made his interest in buying the social media platform known in early April, Tesla’s shares have fallen 21.2%.

Is he taking on more than he can reasonably handle?

“I am on board with all the suggested changes,” says Andreas Grant. “That being said, when I look at Elon Musk’s maturity and his past decisions, I wonder how much of it will actually end up happening.”

The Networks Hardware founder talked to Wealth of Geeks to give his take on Musk Mania. He is in favor of Musk’s broad changes, particularly authenticating all users. “Authenticating existing users will make it difficult for people to harass or bully others,” he says. “People get away with all the trolling and bullying only because they get to hide under their fake accounts.”

In addition to authenticating existing users, Musk has teased adding an Edit button. However, additions to Twitter’s simple microblogging model – such as Vine and Fleets – have not succeeded in the past.

It is possible that Musk could revolutionize Twitter, creating a utopia of conversation that keeps all users safe and accountable. But with ventures in Tesla and SpaceX, can he do it?

A New Twitter on the Horizon

Senior economist and data analyst at Glassdoor Daniel Zhao reported that interest in job openings at Twitter was up 263% between April 24 and April 30 when compared to March 2022.

Musk’s dreams for the platform could become a reality with an influx of interest in working for this new Twitter. Once he completes the $44 billion purchase of Twitter, he will take over as acting CEO, which means we could see changes on the platform sooner than later.

In an increasingly divided world, where corporations are punished for speaking out politically, Mr. Musk is about to take control of the digital town hall that could continue to fuel collective hate. Still, maybe his innovations will turn discourse on its head and get everyone talking and listening, coming together to make a better world.

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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay.


Justin McDevitt
News Contributor | + posts

Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.