Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover is approaching, with the deal set to close Friday according to the terms set by a judge. We’ll explore five questions that remain as the deal nears closing after a rocky six months.
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Breaking down Musk’s Twitter plans
Elon Musk appears to be on the cusp of finalizing his $44 billion deal to take over Twitter ahead of a court-imposed Friday deadline, but the future of the platform remains uncertain as the billionaire space and auto executive prepares to jump into the social media scene.
Here are five questions looming ahead of Musk’s pending takeover.
1. What will content moderation look like?
Throughout the six-month saga of Musk’s agreement to buy Twitter, he’s indicated he would shift the platform to be in line with his views of a free speech environment by peeling back measures Twitter currently has in place that bar certain content.
Critics warn that could lead to a rise in disinformation, which could in turn drive away advertisers and thus cut into Twitter’s main source of revenue.
Musk seemingly tried to quell those concerns in a message to advertisers he posted Thursday, telling them Twitter “obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”
2. Will Trump return?
One of the most direct changes Musk has indicated he would make is letting former President Trump back on Twitter.
In an interview in May at an event hosted by the Financial Times, Musk said he would reverse the platform’s permanent ban on Trump. He called Twitter’s decision to ban Trump over posts it deemed to incite violence around the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol a “morally bad decision” and “foolish in the extreme.”
3. What will happen to Twitter’s staff?
Musk reportedly plans to make cuts to Twitter’s 7,500-person workforce, though it is not clear to what extent.
Musk told prospective investors that he plans to slim Twitter’s workforce by nearly 75 percent, to a staff of around 2,000, The Washington Post reported last week.
Musk pushed back on the reporting, telling employees Wednesday that he does not plan to reduce the workforce to that extent, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. But he is still expected to cut some staff as part of the takeover, Bloomberg reported.
4. How will Musk’s takeover impact the right-wing social media app market?
Alternative social media platforms offering lax content moderation measures have popped up in recent years, catering to right-wing audiences as a number of conservative figures have been booted from mainstream platforms for violating platform policies.
But if Twitter allows for more of that content under Musk, as he’s indicated, the change could cut into the number of users on those platforms — or even kill some of the alternative sites, said president and CEO of the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters Angelo Carusone.
5. What other changes are on the horizon?
Musk’s chief call for change at Twitter has centered on carrying out his vision for a free speech environment, but he’s indicated other updates that the platform may include under his leadership, too.
When announcing the initial acquisition agreement in April, Musk said he wanted to make Twitter’s algorithm open source in an effort to “increase trust.”
Read more here.
Meta fined over campaign finance violations
The parent company of Facebook was fined almost $25 million Wednesday for repeatedly and intentionally violating campaign finance laws in Washington state.
A Washington state judge for the King County Superior Court ruled that Meta must pay the maximum penalty of $24.66 million for more than 800 violations of the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.
- Voters approved the law in 1972 to require total disclosure of all information related to the financing of political campaigns.
- Under the law, ad sellers like Meta must publicize the names and addresses of those who purchase political ads, the ads’ target, how the ads were paid for and the number of views on the ad.
Read more here.
US officials share cyber priorities
Senior U.S. cyber officials on Thursday shared updates on some of the progress the government has made since last year to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity and address emerging cyber threats.
Anne Neuberger, White House deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said one of the top priorities in the Biden administration is to protect all critical infrastructure as cyber threats “continue to rapidly advance.”
Neuberger said that over the past year there’s been a “relentless focus” on securing critical sectors and helping them improve their security systems and cyber hygiene.
She said the focus is on services and sectors that could bring hazard if disrupted such as hospitals, the oil and gas industry, and companies that transport chemicals.
“Our concerns have evolved to where we’re most concerned about degradation or disruption of critical services,” Neuberger said.
Neuberger made her remarks during an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in which it examined the administration’s plan to strengthen U.S. cybersecurity. Neuberger was also joined by National Cyber Director Chris Inglis.
Read more here.
NEW YORK POST HIJACKED, FIRES EMPLOYEES
The New York Post confirmed on Thursday that its website and Twitter feed had been hijacked after a series of racist and violent headlines were posted on its website and Twitter account.
One fake headline posted to the tabloid’s account urged violence against New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), and another used a racist slur against New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D).
Other fabricated tweets and headlines suggested Republicans were advocating for violence against illegal immigrants and teachers who are members of a union.
The tabloid later said that it had fired an employee it found responsible for the offending tweets.
Read more here.
YE: ‘I LOST 2 BILLION DOLLARS’
Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, returned to Instagram on Thursday morning after the platform locked him out for making antisemitic comments.
The rapper told his followers that he lost $2 billion in one day as companies increasingly cut ties with him, including Adidas, the Creative Artists Agency and Foot Locker.
Ye appeared to poke fun at the loss of his partnerships in his first post back on the platform, publishing an image that reads, “Ye has reportedly cut ties with Kanye West.”
In a second post made minutes later, Ye wrote, “I lost 2 billion dollars in one day and I’m still alive.”
Read more here.
👾 BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: The US midterms don’t have to be an online dystopia
Notable links from around the web:
Big Tech is failing to fight election lies, civil rights groups charge (The Washington Post / Naomi Nix)
Americans should be ready — and watching — for Russian meddling in the midterms and beyond (CyberScoop / Bilyana Lily)
Chip Makers, Once in High Demand, Confront Sudden Challenges (The New York Times / Don Clark)
👕 Lighter click: The spookiest
One more thing: A growing threat
Communists. Election fraud. Great replacement.
With just days to go before the midterms, the tone of political rhetoric is rising and bringing a heavy dose of disinformation with it, including in Spanish, where false claims are percolating among one of the fastest-growing electorates.
Much of it is seeking to cast doubt on the validity of the U.S. voting process while pushing a number of false narratives from fringe media.
“We’ve been seeing claims that are kind of anticipating election fraud,” said M. Estrada, a researcher with Media Matters who uses only their first initial professionally, adding that many purveyors of election-related disinformation were “getting ready to spew similar narratives” seen in 2020.
Read more here, or lea este artículo en español aquí.
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