Elon Musk kept the Oct. 28 deadline and closed the Twitter, Inc. TWTR deal without any further hiccups. With the deal done and the billionaire already spelling out his vision for the social media platform, it is pertinent to look at the impact it will have on other up-and-coming rivals.
Will Twitter Users Stay With Musk? Musk has said in the days following the deal that a content moderation council will be set up and that no major content decisions or account reinstatements will be made before the council convenes.
Musk taking the reins at Twitter has generated anxiety among a number of Twitter users, as his promise of making it a platform for free speech has left them worried. The prospect of welcoming back those kicked out of the platform on the grounds of inciting violence or violating rules has not gone down well with some users of Twitter.
Some of them even expressed their intent to leave the platform in the wake of the developments. Ahead of the deal, several advocacy groups have campaigned to thwart Musk’s takeover attempts. Opponents of the deal suggested that if Musk were to take over the platform, he will degrade important safeguards on the platform on the premise of encouraging free speech.
Truth Social – A Non-Starter? Former President Donald Trump announced an alternative to Twitter in a reflex reaction to his ban from Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. The Truth Social platform, whose parent Trump Media & Technology Group has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition Corp. DWAC, was made available for users in the U.S. and Canada, beginning in February. It has yet to take off in a big way.
If Trump is reinstated to Twitter, where he had 88.97 million followers at the peak, he could embrace the offer because of the global reach of the platform and its popularity among people across various demographics and age groups. On his Truth Social platform, he has just about 4 million followers.
It remains unclear if Trump will return to Twitter, although he publicly said he will stay with Truth Social. Incidentally, following Musk’s takeover, Trump commented that Twitter is now in safe hands.
So, will Truth Social be nipped in its bud? Possibly. Another factor working against it is the problems its SPAC partner is currently facing. The disclosures made by Digital World are currently being scrutinized by the SEC, casting doubts on the consummation of its merger with TMTG. This would mean Truth Social might not receive the funding it was hoping to get following the deal.
Kanye’s Parler Dead On Arrival? Rapper Kanye West, who has rechristened himself as Ye, was recently in the eye of the storm following his anti-Semitic comments made in public and on various social media platforms. In the aftermath of his temporary suspension from several platforms, including Twitter, the rapper announced recently an agreement to acquire right-wing platform Parler. The deal is supposed to close in the fourth quarter.
Parler was founded in 2018 and had 16 million users as on January 2022.
Coincidentally or intentionally, just after Musk’s takeover, West’s suspension was revoked.
Parler, which touts itself as an alt-tech free-speech platform, thrived merely because it accommodated right-wing personalities, conservative politicians and media personalities, who have been de-platformed from other mainstream social media.
With Musk’s promise of nurturing free speech on Twitter, will Parler become redundant?
Will Rumble Stay Relevant? Newly-listed Rumble, Inc. RUM is also a right-wing-sympathizing video-sharing platform founded in 2013. The platform is seen as a YouTube of sorts with a simpler algorithm and fewer restrictions. Conservative creators who have been shadow-banned by mainstream social media and many controversial politicians who have had their videos taken down from other platforms have taken refuge at Rumble to air their views.
In early September, Rumble said its global monthly active users rose 77% to a record 78 million in August.
Then there are other neutral up-and-coming platforms such as BeReal, a French photo-sharing social media app, U.S. video live-streaming service Twitch, VoIP and instant messaging social platform Discord and social audio app Clubhouse, where users communicate in audio chat rooms that can accommodate thousands of people. Given these platforms provide niche services and cater to a niche audience, there isn’t likely to be major fallout from the Musk-Twitter deal.
How Musk’s Twitter Takeover Impacts Mainstream Platform? Mainstream social media like Meta Platforms, Inc META-owned Facebook and Instagram, Snap, Inc.’s SNAP Snapchat and Alphabet, Inc’s GOOGL GOOG YouTube could benefit from the Twitter deal, analysts say, according to CNBC.
Given about 85% of Twitter’s revenue comes from brand advertising, advertisers who may not prefer to want their content to appear alongside misinformation or hate speech, JMP analysts reportedly said that Musk's takeover could pull ad dollars out of the platform and into the other mainstream platforms.
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