Elon Musk plans to upgrade Twitter with new features—attracting larger voices like Tucker Carlson, who is launching his news show exclusively on the platform.
- Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced this week that encrypted direct messaging on Twitter would be launching Wednesday with a new update, allowing for end-to-end encryption of private messages.
- He also announced that voice chat and video chat features would be integrated into the app, allowing users to speak to each other without a phone number.
- The news came the same day that former Fox News host Tucker Carlson announced that he is relaunching a program similar to his nightly news hour as a Twitter-exclusive show, taking advantage of the website’s free-speech provisions.
- Musk publicly noted that Carlson has not signed any deals with Twitter and that the same content rules apply to him as other content creators. “I hope that many others, particularly from the left, also choose to be content creators on this platform,” Musk tweeted.
why it’s new
It has long been known that Musk has ambitious plans for his platform. As we previously reported, Musk has been working on integrating financial features into the platform that he had originally envisioned for PayPal and never used. The rapid proliferation of new features speaks to Musk’s plans to transform the network into a more robust platform with a plurality of features benefiting content creators, commerce, and communication—transforming it into an “everything app.”
Musk has additionally made offhand references to integrating dating, job search, and streaming, as well as launching Twitter Live apps for streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV. However, many of these features have yet to be formally announced or given a launch window.
At the same time, Carlson’s departure from Fox News—where he was the host with the highest audience ratings night after night—was major news in the media world, as many wondered where he would end up. The generally conservative Carlson has taken views far outside the mainstream way of thinking and has strongly defended his right to say what he says. Where could he do that, while ensuring a large audience?
In his announcement, he says that most of what is published in the media today are lies—mostly lies of omission versus outright untruths, “along with proportion and perspective,” he says. “You can’t have a free society if people aren’t allowed to say what they think is true.”
Drawing a large voice like Tucker Carlson could be a potent step in the right direction for the platform. It could signal to other content creators that Twitter is a fully functional and monetizable alternative to YouTube and Instagram.
Carlson is the largest content creator to move to the website to date, following Daily Wire host Matt Walsh, who moved his daily podcast from YouTube to Twitter last month. Carlson’s announcement video has more than 92 million views.
Carlson parted ways with Fox News two weeks ago on unclear terms, leaving rumors swirling of various statements and behind-the-scenes drama being potential reasons for the network to sideline their most popular host.
“With the latest version of the app, you can DM reply to any message in the thread (not just the most recent) and use any emoji reaction. The release of encrypted DMs V1.0 should happen tomorrow. This will grow in sophistication rapidly. The acid test is that I could not see your DMs even if there was a gun to my head,” says Musk.
“There aren’t many platforms left that allow for free speech. The last big one remaining in the world, the only one, is Twitter, where we are now. Twitter has long served as the place where our national conversation incubates and develops. Twitter is not a partisan site, everyone is allowed here, and we think that’s a good thing … Starting soon, we’ll be bringing a new version of the show we’ve been doing for six and a half years to Twitter,” says Carlson.
Carlson’s announcement drew acrimony from his critics, who argue that his moving to Twitter signals that the platform is planting its flag as a right-wing network, according to former CNN host Brian Stelter. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes noted that Carlson would advance Musk’s goal of turning Twitter “into the next Fox News.” CNN lamented in a segment that nobody will “be able to police what Carlson says or is this the point,” and could allow users to further spread misinformation, disinformation, lies, racism, and anti-semitism on the platform.
Of course, as mentioned above, Musk says he wants people from all points of view on the platform. The more, the merrier—and the more successful.
Adds Megan Kelly, a former Fox News host who now hosts her own podcast: “Twitter’s better than ever. Conservatives feel welcome there. And it’s a great way of reaching millions of fans.”
“A celebrity with a large built-in audience like Carlson could make an interesting test of that new revenue-sharing model and how lucrative it could be. It’s possible that this could move Twitter into the video market. If it does succeed, you are likely to see many people following suit,” says University of Michigan professor of information Cliff Lampe.