Okay look, I have no doubt that Elon Musk is a genius on some level, a visionary who was able to tap into key investment and development opportunities, and get things done there. where others could not.
I’m not arguing about that – but his views on social media and how social platforms work seem increasingly outdated, misguided, and downright wrong in many ways.
Today, Musk held his first meeting with Twitter staff since launching a hostile takeover bid for the platform in April.
And as you can imagine, the staff had plenty of questions — and Musk’s answers didn’t exactly provide much assurance about the company’s future direction.
First, on censorship, which has been a key part of Musk’s takeover of Twitter. Musk has long criticized Twitter’s restrictions on certain speech and advocated for more open communication, within the limits of local lawsinstead of taking on more platform-level arbitrage.
At today’s meeting, Musk reiterated that position, saying that pPeople should be allowed to “say some pretty outrageous things” – although Musk also says such comments “shouldn’t be amplified” by Twitter itself.
Exactly what this means is unclear – although it is worth noting that Musk has often criticized the alleged “phantom bans‘ which restrict the reach of certain tweets. It seems like he’s kind of now advocating for it – but how exactly he would envision such a process, in a functional sense, is unclear.
Musk also discussed his anti-bot plan, which has been another key pillar of his Twitter takeover campaign.
If our Twitter auction succeeds, we’ll defeat the spambots or die trying!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 21, 2022
Last month, Musk said his takeover of Twitter had effectively been “paused” because he essentially didn’t believe Twitter’s data that only 5% of its active users were fake/bots. Twitter has since provided Musk with his “full fire hose” of tweets to make an independent assessment.
So how does Musk plan to tackle the bots?
His solution would be for users to pay a certain amount to have their account verified, which would make running massive botnets too expensive.
“It must be a lot more expensive to have an army of trolls.”
That makes sense, but it could also be more difficult in practice, while limiting the app’s growth prospects, if every user has to pay to sign up. The musk has previously also noted that Twitter “goes still free for casual users,” but how these two positions would line up is another fuzzy piece.
Which leads to Musk’s growth plans for the app. According to Musk’s leaked strategy game, which had been shared with potential investors Musk plans to grow Twitter’s user base from 229 million daily assets it currently has, to 600 million by 2025, then to 931 million by 2028.
In fact, Musk told Twitter staff that his plans are even bigger than that, with a goal of one billion users in the app.
Again, the details are pretty light here, with Musk only providing a vague reference to Chinese messaging apps as a model for Twitter’s growth.
Elon says if the company wants more people to use Twitter, it should emulate the approach of super app WeChat in China. “you basically live on WeChat in China…if we can recreate that with Twitter, we’ll be a big hit”
— Alex Heath (@alexeheath) June 16, 2022
Wow, what a stroke of genius this is. This approach hasn’t been attempted by almost any other messaging app, in any other region.
Indeed, Meta has been working on this model for years, first trying to get Western users more addicted to Messenger, via adding a range of expanded features and tools, then pushing to do the same with WhatsApp. in India and other Asian markets.
It never worked. For some reason, Chinese users have adopted messaging apps far more than those in other markets, and while Meta still hopes to make WhatsApp the key connection tool over India and Indonesia in In particular, the odds of US users increasing their reliance on any messaging platform – and certainly Twitter – are not very high.
But Elon seems to believe he’s the first to notice it, and that it’s a hidden gem that no one has yet stumbled upon, again underscoring concern that he’s being a little naive in its approach to managing and maximizing the platform. .
It’s the same in his statements on fake accounts and free speech, Elon has a personal stance on each of those, but it’s not like the issues he raises haven’t been raised and rated by all other social apps at any given time.
Timeline tweets look a lot better than the “algorithm” suggests
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 12, 2022
It always amazes me that someone looking to buy a social media platform doesn’t understand the impact that algorithmic sorting has on engagement, a key measure of success. Yes, some people are annoyed by an algorithm showing them what it thinks they like, but the fact is that every platform that has algorithmic systems in place has seen engagement increase as a result, including Twitter itself. -same.
Which brings us to the next point raised by Musk:
Elon gets a question about content moderation issues and what should/shouldn’t be allowed.
He’s more worried about whether or not people are seeing “boring content” and that TikTok is doing a great job of entertaining people.
— rat king (@MikeIsaac) June 16, 2022
Okay, so the algorithms are bad, but people can’t see ‘boring content’ – and TikTok, which has been hugely successful with its highly tuned personalization algorithm, which powers its ‘For You’ feed, is a great example. what to aim for.
I can’t wait to see how Musk and Co. will solve this.
Other staff issues related to workforce diversity, allowing people to continue working from home (which Musk is opposed to) and, of course, potential layoffs.
Musk has previously said he plans to cut Twitter’s workforce by about 1,000 positions – one-seventh of Twitter’s total workforce – over the next two years.
Musk offered no additional assurances on this front:
“Right now, the costs are exceeding the revenues. It’s not a good situation.
Musk also – probably jokingly – suggested that Twitter could add an “irony” tag to add context to tweets.
Which is pretty stupid – but again, it felt like a joke. Most likely.
Again, overall, Musk’s responses show a lack of awareness in many ways and a lack of a clear plan as to how Musk hopes to make Twitter a success, outside of just incentivizing people. people to tweet more often.
Functionally, it’s not something you can do, and getting more people to tweet has been a focus of the app’s staff for the 16 years it’s been around.
Still, Musk seems confident he has the answers. Like confident $44 billion.
How that translates into action, we’ll have to wait and see.