While Musk’s $44 billion deal to buy Twitter is still to receive regulatory approval, there are concerns on a number of levels as to what this move could mean for the platform in the near future.
Primarily that Musk has previously described himself as a ‘free speech absolutist’, raising concerns that the concerted effort that Twitter has made in recent years to ban accounts spreading misinformation could lapse (in 2021, Twitter banned or restricted around 220,000 accounts to stop misinformation about the QAnnon conspiracy theory).
There is, of course, concern about Musk's attitude to free speech, taking into consideration how this will affect disinformation regarding a number of subjects, from the Blockchain to political issues.
In recent years, Musk’s influence on the cryptocurrency markets through his social media influence has been staggering. According to a January 2022 report by Lennart Ante, a Co-founder of the Blockchain Research Lab, the price of Bitcoin saw a $6k rise, while there was a $111 billion increase in market capitalisation, just from the insertion of #bitcoin into Musks Twitter bio. His influence on the crypto market is colossal; an indication that his deal to own the platform from which his influence came could change the future of cryptocurrency.
From January to June 2021, while it is ridiculous to say that Elon’s tweets were the only factor affecting the price of Bitcoin and Dogecoin, it did have an influence. Here is a rundown of the events that lead to this conclusion:
While this timeline is not exhaustive and doesn’t show every instance, it shows Musk’s use of the platform for this phenomenon. It remains to be seen whether this trend may worsen when he takes charge of the platform he used.
However, thinking of the positives, it would be reasonable to assume that his takeover will lead to the further integration of the Blockchain into Twitter; a plus for crypto fans.
Musk and Twitter political bias
Regarding his effect on the political makeup of Twitter, Musk's move to take over the platform is already having an effect. The chart below shows the gain/loss of followers from perceived left/right leaning public figures. It shows that those perceived or stated left leaning public figures losing followers and those on the right, perceived or stated, gaining followers in the thousands.
Internet reaction to Musk's Acquisition of Twitter
The internet reaction to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter resulted in a spike in searches on Google for both the search terms “Elon” and “Elon Musk” on both April 14th, the day that Musk offered to buy Twitter, and April 25th, the day that Twitter’s board accepted the offer.
This is not surprising, given the controversy about the implications of the acquisition. The spikes in search traffic can be seen in the chart below
These metrics represent Musk’s potential influence as a public figure and the interest in what this means for the future of Twitter. A biased space for political discussion, a way to further utilize the platform to manipulate the crypto market, whether intentional or not, this is no laughing matter.
So what could this mean?
While these are early indications of what Musk’s Twitter may look like in the future, no one can know for certain.
His previous use of the platform, influencing what are already considered risky investments and the worrying trend of politically left leaning figures quitting the platform show that the social media giant is already changing. Whether for better or worse remains to be seen?