Elon Musk's Twitter content policy will make raising a 'troll army' more expensive

The 'hands-on' approach will separate 'freedom of speech' from 'freedom of reach'.
Brad Bergan
A twitter logo (left), and Elon Musk smiling (right).1, 2

Elon Musk is finally revealing some specifics of his Twitter content moderation policy. Assuming he completes the buyout he initiated at $44 billion in April, it seems the tech billionaire and Tesla CEO is open to a "hands-on" approach — something many didn't expect, according to an initial report from The Verge.

This came in reply to an employee-submitted question regarding Musk's intentions for content moderation, where Musk said he thinks users should be allowed to "say pretty outrageous things within the law", during an all-hands meeting he had with Twitter's staff on Thursday.

Elon Musk views Twitter as a platform for 'self-expression'

This exemplifies a distinction initially popularized by Renée DiResta, a disinformation authority — according to the report. But, during the meeting, Musk said he wants Twitter to impose a stricter standard against bots and spam, adding that "it needs to be much more expensive to have a troll army."

Musk also told employees that he supports the idea of having users pay for verification, in addition to prioritizing paying (identified) users over other tweets that the current model sometimes lifts up without full disclosure.

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The tech billionaire has often criticized Twitter's moderation of conservative users, especially when the social media juggernaut decided to ban former U.S. President Donald Trump after the January 6 Capitol Hill incident. Back in May, Musk told the Financial Times that he'd probably reverse the ban on Trump, should he complete his buyout of Twitter.

And in recent weeks, Musk has said he retains concerns about what he perceives as Twitter's lack of action on harassment against an account called Libs of TikTok. But his content moderation policies might be turning a bit softer.

While meeting with Twitter staff, Musk said that he's holding to a foundational principle for Twitter to exist as a platform for self-expression. "Some people use their hair to express themselves," he said during the all-hands meeting, according to The Verge report.

"I use Twitter," Musk added.

Musk's Twitter buyout could have vast consequences for society

And, if Musk completes the buyout, he'll probably serve as Twitter's interim CEO, according to a May SEC filing. In the filing, Musk explained how he secured roughly $7.14 billion in equity commitments from friends and investors.

These investing parties were purportedly "handpicked", according to CNBC's David Faber, with financial packages ranging from $1 billion to the relatively modest $5 million. Jack Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder, offered mild support for Musk's decision to serve as interim CEO, and was in ongoing talks with the tech billionaire while Musk was still working out the kinks of the merger.

Beyond his evolving policies on Twitter's content moderation, Musk has also already begun planning the financial strategy around his forthcoming acquisition — holding presentations for investors where he pitched projections based on his business analysis. Obviously, Musk's plans for Twitter, both from a business and from a content moderation perspective, will have unspeakably vast consequences for society at large. The only questions left are: will he complete the buy, and, if so, how will the public square evolve?

This was developing news about Musk's emerging Twitter content moderation policy and was regularly updated as new information became available.

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