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Elon Musk buying Twitter could mean trouble, social media researcher says

Elon Musk
Posted at 10:31 AM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 10:36:24-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — From Tesla to Space X, and to the Boring Company digging tunnels under Las Vegas, Elon Musk has his hands in many projects over the last few decades, but arguably his biggest move is purchasing Twitter for roughly $44 billion.

The news came Monday after weeks of attempts to acquire the social media giant.

In tweets from his account, Musk promised to make the platform more friendly for "free speech," drawing mixed reactions.

"Elon Musk just worries me in general," said Khrystal Jackson.

Jackson is worried. As mid-term elections approach, any move to loosen limits on misinformation, disinformation, or hate speech could be dangerous.

"You're not going to take down posts, and people could just lie about anything they want to about the election," she said. "Like persuade people on a wide scale and nobody is going to monitor? That's kind of scary."

Others, like Christian Merry, celebrated the announcement, believing big tech companies have been censoring voices from the right side of the political aisle.

"You've got snowflakes, like, the liberals and stuff, who they can say what they want to say," Merry said. "But when Republicans or whoever is for Trump and Musk, they want to say what they want to say, they don't like that."

UNLV social media researcher Mary Blankenship was concerned about the announcement but said proposed changes like clamping down on bot accounts could improve user experience.

"I don't want to go right into a panic," Blankenship said.

Blankenship said social media sites have historically fallen short in an obligation to remove harmful content from platforms, and relaxing rules could turn Twitter into a platform where it's near impossible to find credible information that is potentially made worse by bot accounts and bad actors.

"Mostly troll accounts," she said. "Which can be real individuals and get through human verification, but their intention is still to spread incorrect facts that can be harmful."

Blankenship said regardless of how rules change, people should never interact with bot or troll accounts as it just raises their profile, and people should double-check all sources to ensure that they are credible before sharing.

We reached out to Elon Musk and his PR team for comment, but have yet to receive a response.

This article was written by Sean DeLancey for KTNV.