‘Maximum amazing’: here’s what we think we know about Elon Musk’s plan for Twitter

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“I person a ton of ideas,” Elon Musk texted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal successful April, “but lmk if I’m pushing excessively hard. I conscionable privation Twitter to beryllium maximum amazing.” This was a fewer days aft helium agreed to articulation the company’s committee — and a fewer weeks earlier helium decided to bargain the institution instead, earlier trying to renege connected that deal, earlier suing and being sued by Twitter, earlier seemingly deciding to spell done with it aft all. For each the backmost and distant implicit the past respective months, it’s inactive wide that Musk likes Twitter arsenic a platform, understands its entreaty and power, and has tons of ideas for however to alteration it.

“I conscionable privation Twitter to beryllium maximum amazing.”

In a mean situation, we’d present beryllium capable to accidental with virtual certainty that Musk will, successful fact, go the bulk proprietor of Twitter. But, of course, this is Elon Musk, truthful the “anything tin hap and the astir insane happening astir apt will” regularisation inactive applies. There’s inactive a proceedings scheduled for October 17th and plentifulness of clip near for chaos successful this deal.

But let’s play this retired a spot and presume the woody really closes astatine immoderate constituent successful the adjacent future. We tin statesman to crook to the adjacent question: what volition a Musk-owned Twitter beryllium like? Over the past six months, Musk has fixed america immoderate clues arsenic to however helium mightiness propulsion to alteration the level and adjacent the full intent and constituent of Twitter. And connected Tuesday, helium pointed to wherever it’s headed. “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” helium tweeted aft the quality of his renewed connection went public.

As accustomed with Musk, and particularly with Musk and Twitter, you should judge him astir arsenic overmuch arsenic you’d judge immoderate different Extremely Online poster — which is to say, not overmuch astatine all! Musk often says things helium doesn’t mean; his beliefs alteration implicit time; things could alteration erstwhile helium really owns the company; helium mightiness not extremity up owning the institution oregon owning it for precise long; helium mightiness conscionable unopen the full happening down for the amusive of it! 

But with a 1000 caveats assumed, here’s what we deliberation we cognize astir however Twitter, the merchandise and platform, mightiness alteration with Musk arsenic its owner:

WeChat is the app to copy

X, the “everything app” Musk referred to yesterday, is beauteous intelligibly modeled aft WeChat. WeChat, which is owned by the Chinese tech elephantine Tencent, is perfectly indispensable to mundane beingness successful China for hundreds of millions of users. It’s similar a messaging app, an app store, and a web browser, each successful 1 service; it’s fundamentally the iPhone built into an app.

“There’s nary WeChat equivalent extracurricular of China,” Musk said during a Q&A with Twitter employees successful June. “You fundamentally unrecorded connected WeChat successful China. If we tin recreate that with Twitter, we’ll beryllium a large success.”

This is astir the imaginativeness that Evan Spiegel has for Snapchat and Mark Zuckerberg for WhatsApp. Even WeChat has tried to replicate its China occurrence successful different countries, to nary avail. Everybody wants to beryllium a ace app, but cipher has pulled it off.

But truthful is Signal

Musk has agelong been a instrumentality of the Signal messaging app, and the level has been connected his caput from the earliest days of his engagement with Twitter. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, earlier this year, texted Musk that the aboriginal of Twitter should impact a protocol tally by a foundation, truthful it was abstracted from immoderate concern concerns. “A spot similar what Signal has done,” Dorsey wrote. “Otherwise you person aboveground country that governments and advertisers volition effort to power and control.”

Musk, too, has been reasoning astir however to bring immoderate of Signal’s features — oregon adjacent its existent level — into Twitter. “Trying to fig retired what to bash with Twitter DMs,” helium texted Brian Acton, Signal’s co-founder and enforcement chairman. “They should beryllium extremity to extremity encrypted (obv). Dunno if amended [sic] to person redundancy with Signal oregon integrate it.”

Payments volition beryllium everywhere

One large crushed Musk seems to beryllium chasing the WeChat model? Payments. WeChat makes wealth successful portion by taking a chopped of each the payments — for rent, food, performance tickets, clothes, everything — made successful the app. Musk seems to beryllium funny successful doing the aforesaid with Twitter: in his capitalist presentation, helium said payments could beryllium a $1.3 cardinal concern by 2028. 

Remember, Musk is portion of the PayPal Mafia, the aboriginal radical of founders and executives that got affluent aft PayPal was acquired by eBay and past acceptable disconnected to conquer the remainder of the tech industry. Add his emotion of each things crypto successful there, and you tin spot wherefore turning Twitter into a outgo processor mightiness beryllium compelling.

Musk wants successful connected the creator economy

Few radical would astir apt deliberation of Twitter arsenic a large level for video, but Musk is intelligibly funny successful changing that. He has talked with respective friends and colleagues astir however to marque video advertizing enactment connected Twitter and however to bring video creators implicit from platforms similar YouTube and TikTok.

“From a societal position — Twitter allowing for high-quality video uploads (1080p astatine a minimum) & adding a basal in-app video exertion would person rather a large interaction I think,” Vivien Hantusch, a longtime Musk instrumentality who present works for him successful Germany, texted to Musk. “Especially utile for national journalism & amusive acquisition content. Might adjacent assistance Twitter regain marketplace stock mislaid to TikTok.” Musk’s response: “Agreed.” And then, “Twitter can’t monetize video yet, truthful video is simply a nonaccomplishment for Twitter and for the those [sic] who post.”

Pushing Twitter to go much creator-friendly besides matches with Musk’s different ambitions for the platform. Creators are the astir reliable root of large audiences, and Twitter’s outgo tools would instrumentality a chopped of subscriptions and tips.

Users could get to take their ain algorithm

On the taxable of the Twitter algorithm, Musk’s instrumentality is hard to pin down. He told Twitter employees helium wants the app to be much similar TikTok, offering an automatically generated provender of endless chill stuff. But helium has besides encouraged radical to switch to the reverse-chronological feed and said that “you are being manipulated by the algorithm successful ways you don’t realize.”

Musk’s program seems to beryllium to springiness radical choice. Instead of 1 algorithm governing users’ acquisition of the platform, helium has said helium wants to “open-source” the algorithm and fto others marque caller ones. This full thought is a batch much analyzable and little plausible than helium makes it sound, of course, but it seems apt that he’ll propulsion for users to person much options for however their timeline works.

The blockchain won’t beryllium the answer

For a little moment, the thought of a blockchain-based aboriginal of Twitter seemed to entreaty to Musk. “I person an thought for a blockchain societal media strategy that does some payments and abbreviated substance messages/links similar twitter,” helium texted his member Kimbal. “You person to wage a tiny magnitude to registry your connection connected the chain, which volition chopped retired the immense bulk of spam and bots. There is nary menace to choke, truthful escaped code is guaranteed.”

Musk besides seemed funny successful moving a decentralized societal web arsenic thing isolated from Twitter — an thought akin to what Twitter has already been exploring with Bluesky. But ultimately, Musk seemed to determine it simply wouldn’t enactment — astatine slightest not yet. “Blockchain Twitter isn’t possible,” helium texted the banker Michael Grimes a fewer weeks aft the texts to his brother, “as the bandwidth and latency requirements cannot beryllium supported by a adjacent to adjacent network, unless those ‘peers’ are perfectly gigantic, frankincense defeating the intent of a decentralized network.”

But paid memberships mightiness be

Musk has talked a batch astir Twitter Blue implicit the past respective months and seems to spot paid memberships arsenic a halfway portion of Twitter’s future. He pitched investors a program that progressive getting 69 cardinal Blue subscribers by 2025 and 159 cardinal by 2028. He wants to chopped advertizing to little than 50 percent of Twitter’s revenue, and the lone mode to bash that is to person users to wage up successful a large way.

To propulsion that off, Musk appears acceptable to overhaul the features Blue offers. He and task capitalist Jason Calacanis talked aggregate times astir however atrocious Blue was and the features they mightiness adhd to amended it. “Premium feature[s] abound...and Twitter Blue has precisely zero,” Calacanis wrote. The edit button is an already disposable Blue diagnostic Musk astir apt likes, but that astir apt won’t get 69 cardinal radical to pony up for Blue. There are apt much to come. Musk has adjacent suggested that users should wage to beryllium verified connected the service.

Is this the extremity of the bots?

Obviously, Musk has spent the past fewer months ranting and raving astir the occupation of spam and bots connected Twitter. And portion helium astir apt has a bigger crypto-scam-reply-guy occupation than your mean Twitter user, there’s nary question that inauthentic users are a happening connected Twitter. Musk has pledged to marque “authenticating each humans” a precedence portion besides purging the bots from the platform. In fact, that’s 1 of the reasons helium wanted to instrumentality the institution backstage successful the archetypal place: to region each the bots and crater Twitter’s idiosyncratic numbers without scaring investors.

How volition this play out, and what does it mean for the galore harmless and amusive bots connected Twitter? Hard to say. Anyone who has tried to combat spam and bots knows that differentiating betwixt quality and instrumentality is overmuch harder than it sounds.

He’ll clasp escaped code with a vengeance

Practically arsenic soon arsenic Musk archetypal announced he’d bought a ample chunk of Twitter stock, helium began to presumption himself arsenic the free-speech savior of the platform. About 12 hours aft Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted that Musk was joining the board, Musk — seemingly caller from a telephone telephone with Dorsey — texted him astir his archetypal wishes. “Would beryllium large to unwind imperishable bans, but for spam accounts and those that explicitly advocator violence.”

Musk has indicated that helium would reinstate Donald Trump to the platform and wants to drastically reduce Twitter’s contented moderation to let everything that doesn’t interruption section laws. (This, similar truthful galore things Musk says helium wants to do, is dramatically much analyzable and hard than helium makes it sound. There are a batch of laws! And they’re beauteous antithetic from spot to place!)

Some users person taken this to mean Musk wants to propulsion the level successful a right-wing direction, but Musk claims he’s neutral connected the taxable and lone wants to marque Twitter the same.

This could each person large implications for the 2022 midterms, the 2024 election, and the wide day-to-day acquisition of utilizing Twitter. But again, it’s important to retrieve that Musk doesn’t yet ain Twitter, that Twitter is simply a ample and analyzable merchandise that volition beryllium hard to displacement successful the mode Musk is describing, and that Musk’s program is to fundamentally emulate everyone else’s program to physique the astir important app you usage each time each day.

To propulsion this off, Musk volition besides person to rebuild the institution itself. Morale is debased wrong Twitter, semipermanent projects person been shelved oregon canceled, and galore employees are little than thrilled astir the changes to come. But accidental this for Elon Musk: he’s not shy astir taking large swings. Whatever it looks like, you tin safely stake that the Twitter we cognize present won’t beryllium astir for overmuch longer.