Musk likely to scale back Twitter's content moderation, opening it up for misinformation

SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a T-Mobile and SpaceX joint event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk during a T-Mobile and SpaceX joint event on August 25, 2022 in Boca Chica Beach, Texas. Photo credit Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS RADIO) – Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter is already shaking things up but many of the content moderation changes Musk said he'd make have yet to happen.

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What he’s likely to do is dial back the platform’s content moderation, which could lead to an influx of misinformation, according to Joshua Tucker, a New York University professor and Co-Director of the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics.

"Content moderation is efforts by the platform to try to enforce policies that ban particular contents of speech – such as hate speech, and in some cases such as sharing misinformation," Tucker told KCBS Radio's Melissa Culross on Friday.

Such examples of misinformation include voting procedures or the coronavirus, whether that’s vaccines or the virus itself.

But scaling back these measures may prove harder to achieve than Musk may think.

"It’s impossible to run a platform without some form of content moderation," he said. "If he also wants to maintain the platform as a viable advertising platform."

It's notable that Musk's first lengthy statement on Twitter about the takeover was a message addressed to advertisers.

"He's going to have to wrestle with this tension between his vision of having it be more open than what he thinks it's been," said Tucker. "But the reality of the fact that if it becomes a sort of cesspool of hate speech, people are not going to want to advertise on it."

Going forward, it’s likely that there's going to be one large, dramatic change to really send the message home that Musk is now at the helm.

"My guess is that dramatic change is going to be letting Donald Trump back on the platform," he said.

But overall, there are likely going to be incremental changes to the platform.

"This is not something that can just be turned on and off overnight," said Tucker.

At the end of the day, Musk is known for running profitable businesses, and this will prove a balancing act to keep Twitter profitable, he said.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images