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Elon Musk Twitter Takeover: From Moderation to Monetisation, Here Are the Challenges Facing Twitter’s New Boss

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Overspending on Twitter for $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,37,465 crore) was the easy part. Now, Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk must prove why he believes that Twitter is worth 10 times that amount and turn around a social media platform that he has spent months ridiculing. Earlier this month, the outspoken billionaire said: “Myself and the other investors are obviously overpaying for Twitter right now. The long-term potential for Twitter in my view is an order of magnitude greater than its current value.” Musk has provided few concrete details about his plans, and what he has shared appears far-fetched or contradictory.

Here is what lies ahead for Musk, the self-proclaimed “Chief Twit”, according to current and former Twitter employees, analysts and investors who considered funding the deal.

X super app​

Musk’s biggest bet borrows from China’s greatest hits of the 2010s. “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” Musk tweeted earlier this month.

The idea of an everything app, also referred to as a super app, originated in Asia with companies like WeChat, which lets users not only send messages but also make payments, shop online or hail a taxi. The all-in-one service appealed to users who had fewer choices in a region where Google, Facebook and others were blocked.

Musk has told investors he plans to build one that will sell premium subscriptions to reduce reliance on ads, allow content creators to make money and enable payments, according to a source briefed on the matter.

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There are no super-apps in the US because the barrier is high and there are app choices aplenty, said Scott Galloway, co-host of tech podcast Pivot and a professor of marketing at New York University.

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Apple and Alphabet’s Google, which control the app stores on iPhones and Android phones, see themselves as super apps and would be unlikely to allow other super apps to develop, Galloway said. Consider Apple’s recent rejection of Spotify’s plan to sell audiobooks as one example of barriers to entry.

“It’s not possible at this point in the evolution of the mobile internet,” said Jason Goldman, a former board member at Twitter.

Cutting content moderation

Current and former employees who spoke with Reuters said Musk’s plans to lower the guard rails that are common across all social media platforms would lead to a deluge of hateful, harmful and potentially illegal content on Twitter. Already, it has struggled with identifying and removing child porn.

Members of Twitter’s trust and safety team, which includes content moderators, are expected to be among Musk’s deepest job cuts, employees fear.

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“Imagine a world where all those people are gone,” one employee said. “It’s going to be a hellscape.”

Prevent advertisers from fleeing*

In 2019, Musk tweeted “I hate advertising.”

On the eve of the deal’s expected closing, he appealed directly to advertisers in an open-letter tweet: “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!… Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise.”

Advertisers are not buying it.

They point to Musk’s plan to reinstate the account of former US President Donald Trump as a major impediment to spending money on Twitter. Twitter permanently suspended Trump for risk of further incitement of violence after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

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Welcoming back Trump could alienate moderate and liberal-leaning users, and as a result push away major household brands who aim to market products and appeal to people across the political spectrum, said Mark DiMassimo, founder of ad agency DiMassimo Goldstein.

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Obeying the laws

Musk has promised to preserve free speech of all kinds, but has also struck a more conciliatory tone with global leaders who aim to rein in Big Tech.

In May, Musk said in a Twitter video that he agreed with the European Union’s new digital media regulation, which will force Big Tech to do more to tackle illegal content or risk fines of up to 6 percent of global revenue, in one of the world’s most severe approaches to regulating content online.

Regulators across Asia are also toughening legal stances against social media platforms and ordering the removal of content they deem illegal, which includes speech by political dissidents.

In India, Twitter has waged a “sophisticated battle” with the government to protect free speech online, and this battle would be at risk with Musk in charge, Goldman said.

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Tesla’s expanding business in China, where it generated $14 billion (roughly Rs. 1,15,280 crore) last year, could also put Twitter at risk, Goldman, the former Twitter board member, said.

“The idea that he’s going to be the one liaising with the Chinese government and potentially turning over information on users, that’s very scary,” Goldman said.

Twitter is staffed with experts who review data requests from governments, but Musk has shown his contempt of these experts, he said.

“Whether or not Trump is going to come back on, I think that’s a parlor game,” Goldman said. “But what’s actually going to happen is a dissident’s IP address will be dropped on the floor.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Apple launched the iPad Pro (2022) and the iPad (2022) alongside the new Apple TV this week. We discuss the company’s latest products, along with our review of the iPhone 14 Pro on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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What Are WhatsApp Polls and How Do You Use Them? All You Need to Know

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WhatsApp’s new features and updates which have rolled out over the past few months have made the messaging experience much better. Now, WhatsApp users can even create polls in personal and group chats to see what their friends and contacts think. Both iOS and Android users can use this feature. A poll could help take the opinions of group members on any topic or idea, or could be useful for making plans quickly. Just like your chats, the responses you send to a poll question will be protected by end-to-end encryption. At the moment, Telegram and Facebook Messenger allow group polls. You can easily start using this new WhatsApp feature on your smartphone.

Here is How to Create a WhatsApp Poll

Step 1: Update WhatsApp to the latest version

Step 2: Open the private or group chat in which you want to create a poll

Step 3: For Android, tap on the paper clip icon at the bottom of the screen. For iOS, select the plus (+) icon at the bottom of the screen.

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Step 4: Select ‘Poll’

Step 5: Type the question you want to ask, along with response options

Step 6: Finally, tap on ‘Send’ to share the poll

Up to twelve response options can be offered to recipients for each poll, and these are not time-bound. Users can also see the responses selected by others by tapping on ‘View votes’.

The Meta-owned messaging app has recently worked on several updates, rolling out new tools including the Call Link feature, the ability to message yourself, and Companion Mode. While some of these new features are not available to all users at the moment, WhatsApp does plan to make them accessible to everyone in the coming days. The most recent and talked-about feature apart from WhatsApp polls is Communities. These allow users to have separate groups under one “Community” to organize large conversations.

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“With Communities, we’re aiming to raise the bar for how organizations communicate with a level of privacy and security not found anywhere else. The alternatives available today require trusting apps or software companies with a copy of their messages – and we think they deserve the higher level of security provided by end-to-end encryption,” stated WhatsApp in a blog post.

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Elon Musk Calls Donald Trump’s Twitter Ban ‘Grave Mistake’, Condemns Violence

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Twitter’s ban on then President Donald Trump after January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was a “grave mistake” that had to be corrected, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Friday, although he also stated that incitement to violence would continue to be prohibited on Twitter.

“I’m fine with Trump not tweeting. The important thing is that Twitter correct a grave mistake in banning his account, despite no violation of the law or terms of service,” Musk said in a tweet. “Deplatforming a sitting President undermined public trust in Twitter for half of America.”

Last week, Musk announced the reactivation of Trump’s account after a slim majority voted in a Twitter poll in favor of reinstating Trump, who said, however, that he had no interest in returning to Twitter. He added he would stick with his own social media site Truth Social, the app developed by Trump Media & Technology Group.

Republican Trump, who 10 days ago announced he was running for election again in 2024, was banned on January 8, 2021, from Twitter under its previous owners.

At the time, Twitter said it permanently suspended him because of the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the Capitol. The results of the November 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden were being certified by lawmakers when the Capitol was attacked after weeks of false claims by Trump that he had won.

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Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other sites to falsely claim there had been widespread voter fraud, and had urged supporters to march on the Capitol in Washington to protest.

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The attack is being investigated by US prosecutors and a congressional committee.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday on Musk’s statement that Trump did not violate any Twitter terms of service when his account was suspended.

Earlier on Friday, Musk tweeted that calling for violence or incitement to violence on Twitter would result in suspension, after saying on Thursday that Twitter would provide a “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that had not broken the law or engaged in spam.

Replying to a tweet, Musk said it was “very concerning” that Twitter had taken no action earlier to remove some accounts related to the far-left Antifa movement. In response to another tweet asking if Musk considered the statement “trans people deserve to die” as worthy of suspension from the platform, the billionaire said: “Absolutely”.

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Change and chaos have marked Musk’s first few weeks as Twitter’s owner. He has fired top managers and it was announced that senior officials in charge of security and privacy had quit.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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WhatsApp Reportedly Testing Voice Status Update for iOS Beta: All Details

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WhatsApp, the Meta-owned instant messaging app, is reportedly working on a feature that will let iOS users share voice notes in their status updates. As of now, the users can only share pictures, videos and links in their WhatsApp status. However, once the new feature will be rolled out, WhatsApp users on iOS will be reportedly able to share voice notes or voice clips as well in their status updates on the app. According to the report, the messaging platform is testing the feature on iOS Beta for an upcoming update.

According to a report by WhatsApp development tracker WABetaInfo, WhatsApp users on iOS will be able to share a voice note of up to 30 seconds alongside text in their status updates, similar to what they can currently do in a WhatsApp chat.

The report has also shared a screengrab of the same, hinting at the upcoming feature, which shows a microphone icon on the bottom of the text status.

WhatsApp on iOS users will be required to click on the microphone icon and record their voice to upload it as their status update. They can even add text to it, if needed. It is worth noting that the voice status updates will only be shared with the people selected in the privacy settings. Also, these voice notes will always be end-to-end encrypted.

Not only iOS, but this ability is said to be also being tested in WhatsApp beta for Android’s upcoming update. As of now, this feature is still under development, so it would be very early to say anything.

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Meanwhile, WhatsApp recently rolled out WhatsApp Polls to users on both Android and iOS. The Polls feature was introduced alongside ‘Communities’, a feature that allows users to have separate groups under one umbrella to organise group conversations. WhatsApp Polls lets users create polls within the group with the ability to vote. Facebook Messenger and Telegram currently allow users to add group polls. WhatsApp’s poll feature will be protected by end-to-end encryption.

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