Two hours ago, Elon Musk’s long-anticipated acquisition of Twitter was completed.
Hopes now run high that at least one social media platform can operate for all and free speech restored.
Time will tell.
As an avid user of the platform, I believe the following needs addressing:
1. Bots. The system is fouled by fake accounts created by algorithm. The platform must be cleansed on this problem.
2. Bad-Faith Actors. I’m not talking about typical anonymous accounts, but rather accounts run by nation-state troll farms at call centre scale. I’m constantly inundated with this scourge. They used to be easy to spot: low follower numbers, homogeneity of digital assets in the profile feed, short sentences in broken English. They are now becoming harder and harder to spot. They sit like sleeper agents in good citizens’ follower list for what sinister purpose or misinformation we are yet to learn. Get rid of them.
3. Safety & Integrity. It almost goes without saying that the previous management, the CEO, CFO, Corporate Counsel and Policy Officer now unceremoniously terminated by Musk, actively pursued centre-right users with the Safety & Integrity Department. It used a pincer movement to suppress centre-right users. The first was the dreaded algorithm which flagged people and then spurted automatic double-speak messages to put people in a procedural cul-de-sac. Then it referred a select few of the targeted users to an inadequately small Safety & Integrity Department of actual humans who them mercilessly cancelled many honest users with unfavoured political views. Ending this double-pincer is huge priority to restore the platform.
4. Advertising. As a B2B businessman, I have no need to advertise on Twitter. It’s a B2C platform. Even if I were wishing to advertise to the retail or B2C markets, I wouldn’t use Twitter. How can targeting occur when most handles are anonymous. It’s a very low-value, hit and miss way to reach new customers.
5. Caves and Common. A ‘cave’ is a place in an online community where a person can retreat or pursue more focused relationships. A ‘common’ is where you’re in the flow of action, in the bright shiny lights of the site. Because Twitter is all common, is feels like a brutal fight club. There’s little respite, little joy, little reprieve. Twitter groups or rooms would be a fantastic innovation.
6. Anonymous Handles. Of course, most people tweet with the protection of anonymity. But for the advertising issue, I think that’s OK. However, the site would be far better if people declared their identity. It would temper the fight club feel of the platform and users would be more likely to self-moderate. As there are advantages to anonymity, like speaking truth to power and whistleblowing, I think a hybrid model would work well. So users could still have an anonymous handle, but with limited reach or features. Upgrading to full user identification would allow greater reach and features.
Whatever changes are made by Mr Musk, one thing is certain. The property is now in the hands of a man who knows how to make things happen.
It will be interesting to watch.
It will be even more interesting being a Twitter user.
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An entrepreneur who has employed 1,470+ people, Kenelm was admitted to the BRW Fast 100 three times with businesses in Australia, NZ, Singapore and New York, where he lived for 12 years. Kenelm’s investment firm performs mid-market leveraged roll-ups. He was a regular columnist for the Australian Financial Review. Kenelm is the Founder of Liberty Itch.