Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

With the purchase of Twitter seemingly going through and Elon Musk obtaining the most successful unsuccessful social media network, it got me thinking about some of his comments around it and what they may mean for users.

As the platform has been plagued with bots for years now, the comment from Elon of ‘authenticate all humans’ has got a lot of people discussing what this could be about.

The big thing that gets trumpeted about Twitter is that it is a home for free speech. I believe that Elon’s comments relate back to free speech and ultimately the consequences of it.

As bots and trolls have filled Twitter, it has clearly become something that’s not filled with the best examples of polite discourse, to put it lightly. This is where ‘authentication’ comes in.

As many people seemingly fail to grasp that ‘freedom of speech’ should come at a cost; Accountability.

Looking at the ‘digital town square’ idea that Elon and others promote, when contrasted with the physical space, the expression of people’s words comes with the caveat that everyone can see you and thus see who you are. You’re held to your word.

And that is where I can see that Elon may be pushing Twitter. For a long time, the blue tick on a verified account has been not only the badge of honour but most of the time a mark of truth. What this account says is what the owner says. Be it true or false, it is what they wanted to publish.

Now with the potential of all users being verified that badge may very well mean the same thing. I would also suppose that if everyone has a ‘blue tick’ then no one will need one. Or at least they won’t be shown anymore. However, this means that you are beholden to your word.

This very old fashioned idea may very well be the future of Twitter thanks to its new owner. We don’t know for sure and we won’t for quite some time but perhaps we’ll get an answer to this before we get an edit button.