Last week, we reported on Tesla boss Elon Musk purchasing a 9.2% stake in Twitter. At the time, we speculated that his decision to decline a board seat might mean he had other plans for the social media platform.
Today, we need to speculate no more. Musk has officially offered to buy Twitter outright at a valuation of $43 billion or $54.20 per share.
Musk wants to unlock Twitter’s ‘extraordinary potential’
As Musk’s takeover bid made headlines worldwide, he commented that Twitter has “extraordinary potential” to boost free speech and democracy around the world. However, he said that he believed it needed to become a private company in order to do so. It’s well known that Musk is an advocate for free speech and has openly criticized Twitter for some of its decisions and their implications for freedom of speech.
His offer to take the firm private represents a 54% premium to Twitter’s closing share price on the day he started buying his initial stake, January 28. Clearly, Musk sees not only the potential to bring about greater freedom of speech but also the opportunity to grow it and recoup his investment in the process.
Analysis: How Musk could make Twitter great again
It’s arguable whether Twitter was ever great, but there’s no doubt that it has gone downhill in recent years. Hysteria over even slight offenses or violations of Twitter’s policies has led to bans on huge numbers of accounts, including the account of former United States President Donald Trump.
Musk is clearly unhappy with Twitter’s behavior, but it’s unclear how he plans to fix it. Yet, there are some obvious things he can do to improve things.
First, Twitter must change its business model. As things stand, the firm makes money from an outdated and obsolete model of harvesting user data and serving ads. This allows it to come under immense pressure from activist groups when any user says something they find offensive. It’s also invasive and unfair to users who aren’t aware of how their every move and interaction is tracked, traced, and logged into Silicon Valley servers.
There are solutions to this problem, and they work today. Changing Twitter’s business model to one based on micropayments would put the invasive ad-based model to bed and would usher in a new era of data sovereignty. Of course, this would have to be done on a scalable blockchain capable of facilitating billions of daily micropayments. Bitcoin SV is the only such blockchain. Sorry, Mr. Musk, but Dogecoin won’t cut the mustard.
Second, Musk needs to make Twitter’s policy on what can and can’t be said simple: only posting obvious illegal content could lead to account suspensions or bans. In cases where there are grounds for suspension, the newly revamped Twitter must allow users to download their data and move to another platform. Ryan X. Charles and Casey Hamilton recently described how this could work, and BSV-based social media app Twetch is an excellent example of how it works in practice.
Finally, Musk himself must relinquish authority over how Twitter works. Yes, it would be his company, and he could suggest or demand design elements or features be implemented, but the last thing anyone needs is the world’s richest man dictating the rules of what has become the world’s town square. If his takeover bid is successful, Musk must go into this realizing that Twitter is both badly broken and that, for better or worse, it serves an important purpose that even he should not mess with.
Elon Musk is correct that Twitter is an essential tool for free speech and democracy, and he’s right that it is badly broken. However, it can only reach its full potential if he reinvents it, and changing its fundamental business model is the key to doing that.
Only micropayments and data sovereignty can save Twitter in the long run. Whether Musk has the foresight to see this remains to be seen.
Watch: CoinGeek New York presentation, Micropayments for the World: APIs, Tokens and Computation
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