Experts see harsh realities for Musk on Twitter

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San Francisco (AFP) – Tesla boss Elon Musk’s road to turning Twitter into a lucrative platform where anyone can say anything seems difficult to experts.

Musk’s $44 billion deal to buy the global messaging platform has yet to gain support from shareholders and regulators.

And while Musk didn’t reveal the tiniest details about how he would run the business side of Twitter, he expressed enthusiasm for bringing content moderation to a legal minimum and making money from subscriptions.

“Apart from championing free speech, Musk hasn’t defined a vision for what the platform can be,” Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, told AFP.

“He didn’t say if Twitter has an age problem, a geographic bias, who’s the biggest competitor – what else is he thinking.”

Subtract ads?

Musk’s talk of scrapping Twitter’s advertising model to generate revenue, relying instead on subscriptions, doesn’t seem feasible, Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said in a note to investors.

“Elon Musk floated the idea of ​​ditching the ad revenue model,” Sebastian said.

“We find it hard to believe this will happen completely unless he plans to fund the interest payments on the debt out of his own pocket.”

Analysts doubt Twitter users are flocking to pay for premium content or features like retweeting when social media platforms like Facebook are free. Musk could try to sell posts or have other websites pay for anything they use from the tweets.

Musk’s proclaimed stance as a free speech absolutist also promises to undermine the advertising Twitter currently depends on for revenue.

Brands are expected to be wary of having their ads associated with controversial posts if content moderation is kept to a minimum on Twitter Olivier DOULIERY AFP/File

Brands are reluctant to have their ads associated with controversial content, such as misinformation or posts that could cause real-world harm, analysts agreed.

A massive push in subscriptions is likely to reduce audiences on Twitter, while allowing more controversial posts creates a “toxic environment” that discourages advertisers, said the marketer’s Lauren Walden. digital Tinuiti.

As Twitter struggles for profitability, Musk will have to pay large interest payments from the financing arranged to buy the San Francisco-based company.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers are already threatening to change a law sparing internet platforms liability for what users post. They could use a Musk-led Twitter as a poster child for the effort.

Troll roadmap?

Musk’s rhetoric about taking down ‘bots’, software accounts that trigger posts and verify user identities is running up against privacy concerns as well as the right to free speech he claims cherish, scholars have noted.

“Spam is a form of free speech,” said Chris Bail, a sociology professor at Duke University.

“Some of the propositions put forward by Musk may actually contradict each other.”

Musk’s planned changes for Twitter include releasing the software running the platform, letting people see how posts are handled, and even recommending tweaks.

Making the Twitter software “open source” could give users insight and control over the platform, but would provide “uncivil actors” with instructions on how to better spread their messages, Bail told AFP.

“Paradoxically, the platform’s open source may actually make it easier for trolls to dominate the platform,” Bail said.

Musk would take control of Twitter while running electric car maker Tesla; tunnel boring company Boring Company; SpaceX private space exploration effort and a Neuralink project to synchronize brains with computers.

Elon Musk is set to take over Twitter as he leads a slew of other companies, including electric car star Tesla and private space exploration firm SpaceX
Elon Musk is set to take over Twitter as he leads a slew of other companies, including electric car star Tesla and private space exploration firm SpaceX Jade GaoAFP

“It’s like he collects CEO jobs,” joked technology analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.

“Maybe with 10 he will get free coffee.”

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has come under fire for dividing his time running digital payments company Block, then called Square, while he was Twitter’s chief.

However, Musk is a proven success as a businessman and the richest person in the world.

“The only thing that makes me think is that he has expertise in engineering companies, but Twitter really isn’t an engineering company,” Bail said.

“It’s not about teaching a car to drive itself, it’s about serving people’s interests.”

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