Support for Elon Musk is continuing to decrease after the Twitter CEO made even more changes that, instead of honoring his promise of increased transparency on the platform, only serve to muddy the waters.
The changes in question come largely at the expense of researchers who are used to using Twitter’s data to study the effects of social media and specific algorithms on human behavior and audiences in general. While pre-Musk Twitter ownership gladly collaborated with researchers and granted access to APIs, Musk has no such intentions.
According to Bloomberg, scientists in particular have been affected by Musk’s changes, citing sudden charges for access to Twitter’s API. Some researchers reported correspondences with Musk in which they were told to either delete the data they have gathered from the platform or start paying a whopping $42,000 per month for continued access.
Musk has also enforced policies that make anti-bot measures and tools, such as Botometer, and the detection of misinformation, like Hoaxy, borderline unusable.
Bloomberg’s Faye Flam argues that this obfuscation is especially irresponsible in the age of artificial intelligence. “…AI will be injecting a whole new brand of deceptive tactics into the information ecosystem,” she writes. “Since social media exerts a big influence on mainstream media, these problems will affect even those who avoid Twitter and Facebook.”
Despite these actions, Musk has repeatedly claimed that he believes in the power of transparency, going so far as to post Twitter’s algorithm and release confidential internal documents. However, some would argue that these token gestures are more of a distraction or a performative gesture than a demonstration of good faith. Among those who are skeptical is Flam.
“[W]hat Musk is now covering up might matter more than what he’s thrown into the light,” she posits.
Musk’s contradicting statements and actions aren’t entirely unsurprising, but they do represent an important learning opportunity for anyone running a customer-facing service that creates its own ecosystem: It is absolutely crucial to preserve the natural order of things–such as they may be–at all costs.
Unfortunately, that’s not what Musk has done. By pushing researchers and social scientists to the side, Elon Musk stands to alienate a very important part of the social media food chain–a decision that will absolutely come back to haunt him in the future.