Elon Musk’s new Twitter superpower is harmful

Musk additionally restricted the usage of his Starlink satellite tv for pc web service in Ukraine and made statements which have been interpreted as support Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory. Musk’s different firm, Tesla, depends on China as a market, as a producing hub and as a supply of uncooked supplies, resulting in concerns that he might be pressured to cut back or take away content material essential of Beijing. In October, he was criticized for inserting himself into The Chinese dispute over the future of Taiwan.

Twitter has been used previously to affect nationwide politics in a number of nations. The Guardian reported this week that an Israeli firm used the platform to govern the result of 27 elections. Below Musk, Twitter was additionally accused of being slow to act on the rise of electoral disinformation in Brazil that resulted in an tried coup.

Musk additionally immediately tweeted the misinformation himself. In January, He apologized for tweeting a baseless conspiracy concept about American speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, who was assaulted of their residence in late 2022.

Neither Musk nor Twitter instantly responded to a request for remark.

Twitter reportedly gutted its authorities relations groups around the globe, and it was the one main tech firm to not present a full disinformation report back to the European Union as a part of its voluntary code of observe on disinformation. this month. The obvious closure of Twitter’s press workplace additionally limits the corporate’s legal responsibility.

However whereas TikTok’s capacity to alter what customers see has triggered policymakers to scramble for regulation, response to the adjustments on Twitter has been muted. “Totally different ranges of concern amongst politicians spotlight each their hypocrisy and low ranges of media literacy,” says Steven Buckley, lecturer in media and communications at Metropolis College London, who makes a speciality of politics. American and social media. “Mainly, there’s little or no distinction between what TikTok is doing to spice up posts and what Twitter is doing now.”

Agnes Venema, a nationwide safety and disinformation researcher on the College of Malta, says she thinks Musk has extra leeway as a result of he’s seen as a prankster when he manipulates the dialog, whereas TikTok, owned by Chinese language tech firm Bytedance, is drawn into geopolitical debates. . “I see a double normal on the subject of outrage over TikTok as Musk goes his merry approach,” Venema says. “I think about it has no less than partly to do with safety pursuits, TikTok being Chinese language, and the cult of persona round Musk.”

This persona cult helped Musk make drastic selections about how the platform works with out an excessive amount of scrutiny, in keeping with Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology on the College of Manchester Enterprise College, who has studied Musk’s idiosyncratic approach. to handle Twitter. “He is very a lot in Trump mode from the standpoint of needing consideration,” says Cooper. “He desires consideration, and he wants consideration as an individual.”

Nonetheless, Cooper would not suppose there’s way more to Musk’s selections than that. “He is a person who wants consideration. The person simply wants consideration and adoration. I do not suppose that is dangerous.”

Venema says Musk’s use of algorithmic heating ought to be a pink flag. Platforms have at all times engaged in some extent of manipulation of what folks see on-line, nevertheless it’s not often this apparent.

“All of us wish to imagine on this phantasm that social media is de facto {the marketplace} of concepts, the place anybody can achieve an viewers,” she says. “Musk is form of key in pulling the curtain again and displaying that in reality some folks do get a megaphone and a few folks do not.”

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