Editorial | Elon Musk’s ideas for Twitter set a negative precedent for the platform


AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Eccentric billionaire and Tesla founder Elon Musk bought Twitter for a steep $44 billion on Oct. 27. After purchasing the company, Musk turned it from public to private, meaning he has more discretion over the platform and it’s subject to less scrutiny. Musk also said he will form a ​​content moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints” — potentially including former president Donald Trump.

Musk’s plans for Twitter will likely make the platform less accessible despite his “free speech” promise, and will create an unsafe environment where bigoted people will have the platform to spread hateful speech. Potentially allowing conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones and Steve Bannon, who were suspended from the platform for good reason, in the name of free speech is disturbing.  

After Musk bought Twitter, bigoted internet users circulated more than 1,200 antisemitic, racist and transphobic tweets and retweets. Posters applauded a potential lack of regulations after Musk took control of the company. Hateful people like these users shouldn’t be able to spread their messages, and it’s extremely dangerous that they feel empowered by Musk. 

Republican lawmakers also applauded Musk for purchasing the platform, especially because he promised earlier this year to “reverse the permanent ban” on Trump. Twitter banned Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection to limit the risk that he might incite further violence.

Musk also plans to start charging $20 a month for verification, with current verified users set to lose the blue check mark after 90 days if they don’t pay. This plan is extremely dangerous as it could lead to impersonation of celebrities, brands or government officials, further spreading misinformation to the public. 

Overall, Musk’s plans for Twitter could create problematic precedents for all social media platforms. Bigoted people will feel empowered to abuse Twitter to spread hateful rhetoric with the lack of regulations on Musk’s Twitter. Reinstating Trump and making people pay for verification will take the platform backward instead of forward. Musk believes he can be above regulations by buying Twitter — but all of these changes will come back to haunt him when the platform makes a turn for the worse and advertisers are scared away.