Twitter Spews Lies Across the World: President Biden

Twitter in India Research Report. Photo: Twitter Logo
Twitter in India Research Report. Photo: Twitter Logo

With the aim to overcome myriad challenges and make Twitter a viable platform, Musk is taking some aggressive steps.

By Rakesh Raman

The U.S. President Joe Biden has deplored Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, Inc., saying that the microblogging platform was responsible for spewing lies all across the world.

Biden made these remarks during a fundraiser in Chicago on November 4, adding that Twitter does not have editors to moderate content while the incidents of hate speech and misinformation are increasing on the site.

Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion in October. The acquisition began on April 14, 2022 and concluded on October 27, 2022. Immediately after acquiring Twitter – which has been in the red – Musk fired nearly half of the company’s 7,500 employees.

“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” Musk said in his tweet of November 5.

The company is facing a further drop in revenue as advertisers are wary of putting their ads on Twitter which is notorious for allowing disinformation and hate campaigns to proliferate on the social media platform.

Musk acknowledged the problem and claimed that hate speech is declining on the site. “Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged,” he tweeted on November 5. “In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline *below* our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press.”

Twitter Troubles

Earlier, Musk had decided to withdraw from the Twitter takeover deal with the complaint that the real identities of most of the 486 million Twitter users cannot be established. 

Musk – who faced a lawsuit for suspending the planned acquisition of Twitter – also complained that the interactions with almost all Twitter accounts seem to be much lower than Twitter claimed.

The concern over a large number of fake accounts on Twitter prompted Musk to terminate the deal on July 8, 2022. He had put the deal on hold in May 2022 and asked his team to check the veracity of Twitter’s claim that less than 5 percent of accounts on the platform are bots or spam. 

Musk believed that Twitter has a large number of bogus accounts and he said that the number of interactions such as comments, retweets, and likes with tweets has also reduced significantly.

This worrying trend was quite visible in a market like India where most Twitter accounts are fake and the untamed users run hate campaigns frequently.

[ Also Read: Twitter in India Research Report Released ]

The fake Twitter accounts are either real persons with multiple profiles or bots. A bot is a computer program that is designed to automatically post tweets and follow other users.

Rogue bots are deployed to follow users who buy them from the market. They can be dormant or active accounts which post innocuous tweets or spread misinformation to harm government critics, influence elections, and impact stock markets. 

The online sellers that sell fake social media followers as well as interactions such as comments, retweets, and likes have proliferated on the Internet.

With the aim to overcome myriad challenges and make Twitter a viable platform, Musk is taking some aggressive steps. For example, on November 5, Twitter rolled out its subscription-based Twitter Blue service for $8 per month. The service includes a blue “verified” badge and other features. 

Musk also announced on November 6 that Twitter will soon allow users to add long-form text to their tweets. In 2017, Twitter had increased the character limit of tweets to 280 from the earlier 140-character limit.

But as Biden has warned, the biggest challenge for Musk will be to make Twitter a disciplined interface which is free from lies, unruly users, bogus accounts, and fake interactions.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of the humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He runs various environment protection, education awareness, and anti-corruption campaigns, and publishes digital magazines and research reports on different subjects.

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