Tesla CEO Elon Musk stands to be the next owner of Twitter, having pledged roughly $44 billion to buy the social platform and take it private. Assuming that happens, next up on his agenda will be planning how to fulfill his promises to develop new Twitter features, open its algorithm to public inspection and defeat “spambots” on the service that mimic real users.
He’ll also need to have the company start “authenticating all humans,” as he described it in a statement quoted in the Monday press release announcing the acquisition. What exactly Musk meant by the phrase remains unclear.
So does the question of whether his ideas are technologically possible and how we’ll know if these changes would benefit users or serve some other purpose.
Experts who have studied content moderation and researched Twitter for years have expressed doubt that Musk knows exactly what he is getting into. After all, there are plenty of fledgling examples of “free speech” focused platforms launched in the past few years as Twitter antidotes, largely by conservatives unhappy with the company’s crackdowns on hate, harassment and misinformation. Many have struggled to deal with toxic content, and at least one has been cut off by its own technology providers in protest.