Elon Musk’s proposed freedom of speech after his takeover of Twitter means “we can expect fireworks” in the coming months due to the current social climate, one commentator said.
The US billionaire’s surprise purchase of the social media platform, which was agreed on Monday, is based on Mr Musk’s belief that Twitter is not the free speech platform he should be, what he called a “societal imperative”.
But an expert said the approach could spell trouble for Mr Musk and the platform, at a time when regulators seek to rein in social media sites amid rising levels of online abuse and polarization .
Peter Vidlicka, media pundit and co-founder of free PR site Newspage, said while the Musk deal could help Twitter “get its mojo back,” it could also cause conflict.
“Elon Musk describes himself as a free speech absolutist, so in the current socio-cultural climate, we can expect fireworks in the months ahead,” he said.
“For many, Musk’s purchase of Twitter will be viewed less as a hostile takeover and more as a cultural posturing, a boost to free speech, and much-needed authentication of everyday people and their everyday opinions.
“For others, the line between free speech and hate speech is thin and many fear that Twitter under Musk will become an even wilder West than it already is.
“Describing Twitter as a digital public square is an avuncular metaphor that doesn’t necessarily convey the chaos that often takes place there. It’s a digital public square, after kick time.
Another of Mr. Musk’s proposed plans for the site — to open source its algorithmic code so it’s publicly available and can build transparency around how and why Twitter shows people certain posts — has also raised concerns.
Cybersecurity experts have suggested that this approach, while admirable in terms of transparency, could make Twitter more vulnerable to hackers.
Jamie Moles, senior sales engineer at cybersecurity firm ExtraHop, said: “The decision to open this code likely means it will be adopted by other social platforms, advertisers and others looking to refine their user targeting. .
“Of course, as with any widely adopted open source code, there are significant security implications.
“As we have seen with Log4Shell and Spring4Shell, vulnerabilities in widely used open source applications are exponentially more valuable. Making its code open source can increase transparency for Twitter users, but it can also make Twitter a much bigger target for attackers.
But Mr. Moles added that this open-source approach could also have a positive impact on another of Mr. Musk’s goals.
“Musk said he was on a mission to eliminate bots on the platform,” he said.
“While it seems like a Sisyphean task, if successful, the methods used by Twitter to eliminate bots from the platform may yield new techniques that improve the detection and identification of spam, spam messages and other malicious intrusion attempts.
“If Musk and his team can train AI to be more effective in combating this, it could well be a boon to security practitioners everywhere.”