Elon Musk Says He Has the Key to Curbing Twitter Trolls and Bots

New owner of social media platform defends approach to paying for “blue checks.”

Elon Musk conducted a live discussion on Twitter spaces Wednesday talking about the future of the social media platform he just acquired. 

Musk focused comments on the future of the company’s “blue check” program to authenticate users as well as a moderation council he said will be established to advise on decisions over whether to ban or suspend users. 

The discussion comes just days after Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition of the social media company and as he has roiled its operations with massive layoffs. 

Advertisers have taken a wait-and-see approach to Musk’s takeover, given his increasingly political statements.  Musk tweeted that the layoffs were needed becuase Twitter is losing $4 million a day and published reports have suggested that the company had sold very little advertising during Musk’s protracted battle to get out of having to buy the company.

Musk defended plans to make the so-called blue check authentication system open to anybody willing to pay. “I don’t like the lords and peasants situation where some people have a blue check mark,” and some don’t, Musk said.

“It will be less special to have a check mark,” Musk said, adding that “Someone has to have a phone and a credit card and $8 a month.” He argued that imposing a fee will make it much harder for bad actors and state actors to create troll and bot accounts. 

“State actors have the budget, but they don’t have a million credit cards and they don’t have a million phones,” to create massive numbers of bogus accounts. “I think in the long run this will work out.”

In the conversation with Twitter officials, Musk commented on the moderation council, saying it will probably take several months to set up. “This will be an advisory council, not a command council,” Musk said. The idea is “so the leaders of Twitter can hear what a lot of people have to say, and that we’re not being numb to the pain of what people are feeling.”

Musk didn’t directly address whether he will allow former president Donald Trump back on the platform, though he has said in the past that he would. Trump was kicked off Twitter after the fatal Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and attack on the Capitol for fear he would incite further violence.

Asked whether Twitter’s rules will apply to himself, Musk said “Yeah absolutely.”

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