Social Media in the News | Elon Musk Buying Twitter and its Potential Implications
June 1, 2022
By now you’ve probably heard the news that billionaire Elon Musk is in the process of buying social media giant Twitter.
For a lot of people, this story has turned into a political argument with the first amendment at the heart of it all.
According to the company’s most recent investor report, Twitter has 229 million daily active global users. That amount of active users equates to roughly 350,000 tweets per minute. Rather than spewing that much information to its users, Twitter uses a funnel to organize and serve up its content. This “funnel” or “filter” is called an algorithm and it’s precisely where much of the political arguing stems from.
- Why does Twitter get to decide what content a user sees?
- Why does Twitter get to decide who is banned from using Twitter?
- Does Twitter infringe on freedom of speech?
- Does Twitter suppress content from people who have certain beliefs?
- Should Twitter be able to hide or ban content it deems unhealthy or hateful?
These are just some of the questions that are currently being debated as Elon Musk makes a bid to take over Twitter.
However, for those of us who use social media in our professional lives, there’s more to consider. How will Twitter change for businesses? Will marketers still be able to access relevant monetizable users? Will Twitter change its algorithm?
We sat down with Commit Agency’s Director of Social Media and Content, Justin Lee, for an expert perspective on how this Twitter purchase could affect the future of social media.
When Elon Musk takes over Twitter, what do you think the biggest change will be?
JL: In the short term, changes are certainly coming down the pipeline for Twitter specifically as it relates to filters around speech and promoted content. Looking further ahead, however, the ongoing discussion surrounding what constitutes free speech and censorship on social media, as well as what responsibility private social media companies should shoulder in such a highly-charged age of misinformation, blatant news manipulation and cultural sensitivities, will only intensify. The discussion is a great one to have, however, solutions should be nuanced and not one-size-fits-all.
How do marketers feel about this?
JL: There are mixed reactions. Some view Musk’s bold move as some clear-eyed solution to allowing Twitter – a global platform that continues to dominate and influence political and cultural conversation – to exist in its truest form, a digital “town square” where ideas, information and debate can occur without repercussion. However, others see a scorned billionaire leveraging his wealth and privilege to ensure he no longer has restrictions on what he personally feels is in the best interest of others. With the last part being so subjective, marketers will have countless questions in the months ahead as to what that ultimately means in terms of advertising on Twitter, but also more largely: Could other powerful entities begin purchasing social media platforms it deems an antithesis to their agendas? That could change everything we know about social media as a tool of public discourse and marketing.
Do you think it’s a good idea to monetize Twitter?
JL: In terms of advertising, Twitter can be an effective platform for large-scale information and awareness campaigns with strategic targeting and a meaningful budget. However, as a universal tool and resource for public conversation and discourse, Twitter is what it is today because it is available to everyone at no cost. Changing that model in any way could upend why it’s so influential for brands and marketers.
Will advertising be affected?
JL: In all likelihood, advertising could become more intense and varied on Twitter, particularly domestically as the United States has fewer filters or restrictions on targeting and types of content or messaging that can be promoted in relation to other countries – most notably throughout Europe. Consumers will need to become even more mindful in their absorption of new information, particularly with sourcing and accuracy.
Has your team started preparing for any new changes?
JL: It’s still wait and see. Everyone is speculating but until the purchase is final and the “keys to the kingdom” are handed over to Musk, it’s impossible to know for sure. Knowing what we do know now, we are anticipating a heightened reemergence of otherwise controversial speech and engagement once restrained by Twitter’s efforts to curb such discourse. We are also anticipating a renewed influx of campaigns and promoted information that may demand added inspection before engaging as brands, marketers and consumers.
How will this purchase affect other social media platforms?
JL: As mentioned, this could be a harbinger of things to come. Could very wealthy, powerful and politically motivated people everywhere decide to leverage their might similarly in an effort to control public discourse or narratives? Even if this isn’t Musk’s intention with Twitter, the seed will most certainly be planted. Social media, while used by a vast majority of the global population to some degree for collective communication and information sharing, does have some responsibility to ensure all authentic voices are heard. However, navigating what constitutes an authentic voice or transparent dialogue vs. intentional corporate or state-sponsored misinformation, will surely only continue to grow murkier in the years to come. As marketers, it’s our job to keep a pulse on the latest changes and pivot quickly and strategically. Social media will always be a powerful tool to reach your desired audience, but the path to success will only continue to shift.
For more guidance on navigating Twitter and other social platforms in the age of corporate transitions, the debate over censorship, and more, as it relates to your brand’s social media strategy, reach out to Commit Agency today.