Lydia Moynihan, Wall Street reporter for the New York Post, discussed Twitter’s business model, free speech and Elon Musk’s bid to buy the social media giant during an appearance on “Morning in America.”
“He’s a very unique buyer in that he’s sort of untethered to any economic reality,” she said. “He doesn’t necessarily believe there’s an economic model. He’s doing it as sort of a public service.”
Moynihan calls Twitter “the world’s biggest and most expensive and most modern digital newspaper.”
But Moynihan said Twitter has failed to monetize its product in a way that many other social media networks have, citing advertising revenue billions of dollars below fellow social network TikTok.
Twitter’s share price has been largely stagnant over the past eight years since it went public versus Facebook and other tech companies that have grown in that span.
“The fact that he was able to swoop in and get this deal done,” she said. “Really underscores the fact that there’s been some longstanding issues with Twitter’s business model and some biases.”
Musk has suggested changing the company’s business model, requiring users to pay to use the platform and avoid advertising.
“He has a lot of ideas,” Moynihan said. “And the proof is in the pudding. I don’t think anyone at this point really knows what that’s gonna look like.”
Moynihan points out that in taking the company private, “He’s not going to answer to shareholders, the way that the board of directors has had to answer to shareholders here before.”
It’s not just business issues that Musk will have to now address, as there are also real issues regarding censorship and content moderation.
In a statement made after the bid, Musk said he wants to make Twitter’s algorithms open source to increase trust. This would essentially allow people to know how Twitter is making decisions about censorship.
“This is something that Twitter has been criticized for a long time,” Moynihan said. “President Donald Trump was kicked off after the January 6 riots, but yet the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran continues to have a presence on Twitter, as does the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. So there’s a lack of transparency about Twitter’s content moderation, and that’s something Elon Musk has been quite vocal about addressing.
But Moynihan said there has to be at least some piece of content moderation.
“Most companies are very concerned about content moderation because they want advertisers to advertise with them,” she said. “You don’t see a lot of big companies advertising on 8chan or 4chan.”
8chan and 4chan are unmoderated online user-created message boards where, “People can say whatever they want,” Moynihan said. “That’s the ultimate free speech.”
According to Moynihan, normal people don’t want to have an account on these sites “because it’s such a toxic sort of melange of people just throwing racist, bigoted things out there.”
Twitter said the company is being acquired by “an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk.” But that says nothing about how much control the world’s richest man will exert.
“When you have that much content, no one algorithm I think is going to be perfect,” Moynihan said. “So he’s thrown out a lot of ideas that people are willing to latch on to and easily resonate with. But again, implementing that is a totally different question.”
Watch the full interview with Lydia Moynihan in the video player at the top of the page.