There is a lot of skepticism about Elon Musk
Deal, with some downplaying the buyout as a vanity project. But there’s another possibility here: Musk could turn things around and reshape social media for the betterment of society.
Assuming the deal goes through, it would be the first time Twitter (ticker: TWTR) has had a tech-savvy power user at the helm of the company. Those experiences should help Musk help Twitter solve many problems that have long plagued the company.
Despite spending almost $4 billion on R&D over the past five years, Twitter has little to show for it. To the delight of its burgeoning rivals — including TikTok and Telegram — the company’s core offerings have remained essentially unchanged for a decade. Struggling to keep up with the competition, Twitter has shut down its short-video app Vine and its Instagram Stories clone, known as Fleets.
Twitter could easily save $2 billion annually by reducing ineffective investments in R&D, sales and marketing. Musk could put those resources to better use. Upon recruitment, he has a successful track record of attracting technical talent within his private companies. In terms of marketing, Musk generates more free advertising than anyone else in the world, which would allow Twitter to cut its advertising budget.
Finances aside, privatization is a big deal for Twitter. It would allow the company to make tough decisions about the platform’s long-term success without short-sighted pressure from Wall Street. Musk has already mentioned some obvious areas for improvement, such as: B. Sorting out the spam accounts that make using Twitter tiresome. But he can do more to improve the product.
One of Musk’s first efforts would be to improve Twitter’s recommendation engine to encourage users to follow the best Twitter accounts, which include some of the smartest, funniest, and most fascinating people on earth.
Musk should also highlight and enhance Twitter Communities, a fairly new feature that allows users to track conversations that fit specific areas of interest.
Ultimately, Twitter needs to overhaul the way the platform highlights and prioritizes content. The crux of the problem is that social media platforms have been hampered by their ad-based business models, which offer incentives to amplify content that generates viral engagement and leads to more revenue, along with partisan and toxic content.
“The meanness is extraordinary,” former Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger once said of his time on Twitter. “You turn around and look at your notifications and you’re like, ‘Why am I doing this? Why do I endure this pain?’ ”
But with the backing of Musk and the perks of Twitter, there’s no reason the social media platform can’t make users happier and smarter. One way to achieve this goal is for Twitter to copy some of the best features from Reddit, the privately held social media site that uses crowdsourcing tools like polls to publish the most substantive posts.
In a November podcast interview, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said social media is ripe for disruption by a startup that can figure out how to develop a discovery mechanism for higher-quality content while avoiding the dangers of ad-based engagement Models rewarding malicious actors who use emotionally divisive posts.
The future of social networking “is a lot less about people manipulating distribution and much more about, is this content good?” said Systrom. Twitter, under Musk, may be the company to finally prioritize content over distribution.
In the meantime, Twitter can and should supplement its revenue by creating a more comprehensive paid subscription service. Avid Twitter users would be happy to pay for an ad-free product that offers better personalization and advanced messaging features.
At first glance, these ideas might contradict Musk’s stated dislike of content moderation and his focus on free speech. But in reality, Musk can fulfill his desire for a more unrestricted platform while improving call quality.
By defeating spam bots, he is already making a value judgment about the content of a tweet. Threads full of insults and harassment would come to a quicker end if the platform focused on amplifying quality discourse from real people. This would not be censorship but a way to improve the experience for all users.
Ultimately, making Twitter a spam-free platform with a higher signal-to-noise ratio would increase usage and accelerate growth, making the company more valuable to both Musk and users.
The richest man in the world has the means and the ability to fix our social media discourse. Musk could get even richer while helping humanity again.
write to Tae Kim at email@example.com