Elon Musk offering $44bn (£34.5bn) to take over Twitter is still a hot topic within the news. Interested in the potential of the social media platform, he may be losing users before he’s even started. Maybe it’s time for a new platform to rival and present an alternative option.
Does anyone remember Google+? Could a revival see fierce competition for Twitter?
An Introduction to Google+
Google+, also known as Google Plus and G+, was a social media platform created, owned and run by Google. Launched back in 2011, it featured attributes you still today but some unique to the platform:
- Post photos
- Update status – Personally and within communities
- Group “friends” into “Circles”
- Group messaging
- Text and video chat
- Upload and edit photos to cloud-based albums
- Link to Google products – Google Drive, Blogger and YouTube
Two weeks after the launch, Google+ grew to 10 million users which increased to 25 million after another fortnight. This growth continued throughout the year, however engagement rate was lower than other social media platforms.
Unfortunately, this shortly led to its shutdown 8 years later. Low engagement and a compromising software design that enabled access to personal information resulted in the platform’s shutdown in 2019. The security bug that was detected and affected 52.5 million users accelerated this shutdown from August to April.
It’s been 3 years since G+ and all is not lost. Technology and security have advanced, Google has learnt its lesson, and it is a powerful platform that could potentially make an impact.
What is the Potential Fallout from Musk Buying Twitter?
When Elon’s offer was accepted, he immediately called for a series of changes. As the world’s richest person, he has significant power behind him. Also, he has a divisive history regarding Twitter himself; this includes misleading Tesla investors and a defamation suit.
Suggested Changes from Musk
Relaxing Content Restrictions
This includes a larger character count and an edit button. Even though an edit button has been desired for a while, there are concerns over the impact on Twitter’s transparency. Typos could be corrected but this ability could be misused as well.
Elon Musk is a free speech advocate stating, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” However, regulators have been stamping down on the content that appears on the platform. This could be a debate itself between Musk and the board.
Eradicating Fake Accounts
Another target for Elon Musk is to increase trust, defeat the spam bots, and authenticate all humans. It may sound simple, but identifying fake accounts will be harder than he thinks due to constraints and governance arrangements.
Fake accounts are not unfamiliar to Twitter and have been around for a while tweeting irrelevant and deceptive content. The authentication process isn’t perfect, but if Elon Musk can execute it, this could mean bigger things regarding other forms of spam.
Adding Subscription Fees
What does the richest man in the world want? More money! While a crass statement, with his plans to change Twitter’s premium subscription service – Twitter Blue – it seems to be true. He believes that decreasing the number of adverts and lowering the monthly cost will increase subscribers and therefore become a reliable source of income.
However, advertisements are a major source of income for the platform and shying away from this could be damaging. So, could he potentially increase the ads instead? Either way, as a free public platform now, we doubt users will want to start paying to use it.
Options for Social Media Alternatives
Even if Musk could bring some innovation to the security side of social media and beyond, it’s looking likely that people will search for alternative platforms. Social media has become a staple in the majority of our daily lives, some may say a necessity. TikTok is a great example of bring something new into the social-sphere and Facebook’s rebrand could be seen as an attempt as an alternative, but is there a new opportunity available?
Google have already tried it once; they could learn from their mistakes and use their position to create a new space for disgruntled Twitter account holders. If people are already searching for alternatives, who’s to say a brand new one wouldn’t be a hit? Watch this space.