One of many extra regarding points of Twitter 2.0, underneath the management of latest proprietor Elon Musk, is that the platform is slowly changing into extra aligned together with his personal ideology, and his private pondering on numerous fronts.
This week, for instance, we’ve seen Elon selling the growth of government-funded media labels to various accounts, which is being erratically utilized, largely to shops that Musk himself dislikes. Elon has additionally spoken of how completely happy he was to remove the blue checkmark from the account of The New York Times, a publication that he recurrently criticizes, whereas he’s additionally changed policies based on his own personal experiences, regardless of them, doubtlessly, having far wider-reaching impacts.
And in some methods, that’s positive – the person spent $44 billion on Twitter, he can do no matter he likes. However there are additionally another points of contemporary society that Elon has refused to align with, for no matter private motive, which may have main destructive impacts for Twitter customers.
Living proof – right now, the Homosexual and Lesbian Alliance Towards Defamation (GLAAD) has highlighted that Twitter just lately eliminated a transgender-specific safety from its Hateful Conduct Coverage.
As per GLAAD:
“Previous to the [recent] rule change, Twitter’s Hateful Content material Coverage said: We prohibit focusing on others with repeated slurs, tropes or different content material that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce destructive or dangerous stereotypes a couple of protected class. This consists of focused misgendering or deadnaming of transgender people.’ The ultimate sentence, particular to transgender customers, has since been eliminated.”
GLAAD says that, in keeping with its analysis, the sentence referring to focused misgendering and deadnaming was current on April seventh, however was stricken from the coverage on April eighth, the day that Twitter introduced an replace to its Abuse and Harassment Policy.
And sadly, that elimination shouldn’t be overly stunning.
Elon has tweeted at various times about his opposition to the usage of pronouns, together with different transphobic views.
Musk, who himself is father to a trans child, sees this as an growth of what he calls ‘the woke thoughts virus’, which is a part of what drove his determination to buy Twitter within the first, as a way to make sure that progressive views don’t drown out traditionalism, and what he sees as the best way issues must be.
And Musk’s ideologies don’t finish there – Elon’s additionally creating his personal generative AI system, which he’s now calling ‘TruthGPT’, as a consequence of issues that ChatGPT, and different generative AI instruments, are censoring conservative viewpoints.
Final month, stories emerged that Musk was looking to recruit AI developers to construct his personal, ‘anti-woke’ AI mannequin, amid rising issues about speech and topical restrictions in ChatGPT. Musk successfully confirmed this in an interview with Fox News this week.
Musk has additionally repeatedly shared his conspiratorial views on the origins of COVID-19, and his opposition to the dealing with of the disaster, which has additionally seen Twitter change its rules around COVID misinformation.
Basically, Musk’s private stances are more and more changing into Twitter’s strategy, which has seen the app shifting extra into line with conservative speaking factors, and permitting sure parts of debate to go unchecked, regardless of potential hurt that may very well be attributable to such.
Which some will see as a great factor. Musk himself has labeled previous Twitter as being a ‘glorified activist organization’, with regard to the way it policed speech, and possibly, with a few of these blocks out of the best way, the platform is now shifting to a extra open, free dialogue, as per Musk’s mission.
However for others, decreasing safeguards round these parts does pose a severe and unacceptable threat, which may additionally make Twitter extra of a house for conspiracies, misinformation, and hate speech.
Although Twitter itself says that hate speech is down since Elon took over, whereas it’s additionally tackling CSAM content material, and cracking down on parts that it claims have been ignored by Twitter administration prior to now.
Exterior reporting, nonetheless, suggests the alternative – that hate speech is actually up, whereas Musk’s actions to fight CSAM have seemingly had little effect.
It’s tough to know what’s truly right. On hate speech, for instance, exterior evaluation does present that cases of hate speech rose, then decreased after Musk took over, in keeping with Twitter’s personal reporting on this entrance (Twitter says that bot armies ramped up hate speech following the acquisition to spice up destructive narratives round Musk).
Besides, cases of hateful phrases are nonetheless extra frequent than they have been in instances previous.
Twitter says that that is because of the approach that is being measured, by way of key phrase counting, with out context. Some phrases that may very well be thought of hate speech, Twitter says, are sometimes utilized in a non-hateful approach, and with out factoring in that nuance, binary point out counts are an inaccurate reflection on this entrance.
Which is sensible, however that doesn’t account for the general rise in mentions. Phrases that may be thought of slurs are being shared extra typically within the app, which does appear to correlate with elevated abuse.
Basically, Twitter 2.0 is step by step sliding increasingly into line with what Elon thinks is appropriate, no matter how most people, or advertisers, may view the identical.
Which is now the important thing query – will advertisers agree with Musk’s views, and can that then issue into their determination when operating Twitter advert campaigns, or not.
Elon himself appears much less involved about what advertisers assume, however they continue to be the largest income supply for the corporate.
Will this impede Musk’s broader imaginative and prescient for the app – and is that imaginative and prescient wholesome for customers?