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What does Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter mean for you

A woman wearing glasses and a red sweater sits for an interview with a photo of an old building over her shoulder.
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VPM News Focal Point
Danasia Pascual is worried that proposed changes to Twitter's verification process could make it more difficult for people to discern people's legitimacy on the site.

For a deeper look at Twitter's future, watch  VPM News FocalPoint  at 8:00 p.m. Thursday.

A new study from Montclair State University showed that since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, there has been a surge in racist, homophobic and antisemitic tweets. This has left many users thinking about what the role of Twitter is and how this will affect them. 

Musk bought the social media platform last week for $44 billion. Since then, he has hinted at changes in Twitter’s verification process and content moderation, and he’s outlined a premium subscription plan for $8 a month that would include adding the blue verification checkmark typically reserved for public figures, news organizations and members, and other notable accounts.  

Danasia Pascual’s job is to stay in the know about what is going on across various social media platforms. As a digital media strategist for Get Social RVA, Pascual said she’s paying attention to Musk’s approach. 

“It's just going to be really interesting to just see how the platform changes and how people are showing up either in a new way, or on a different platform altogether,” Pascual said.  

When it comes to changes in the verification process, Pascual said it can become dangerous. 

"A lot of consumers of social media, from ages 12 to 55, use that verification to know that the information we're getting is from a reliable source,” Pascual said. “If anyone can pay for that blue checkmark, we have to question everything we see on social media, we can't trust what we see." 

Virginia independent journalist Brandon Jarvis agreed, saying that paying for a verification will allow users with a blue check to appear to be a reliable source, which can contribute to the spread of misinformation. 

With over 10,000 followers on his Twitter account, Jarvis uses his platform to inform the public about Virginia politics and public policy.  

"It's really the most useful tool. It's where I believe news starts and then disseminates to other social media sites and on to newspapers and other publications,” Jarvis said. “I think Twitter is ground zero of news breaking and getting out into the world.” 

Pascual said she’d like to see Twitter lay out a clear plan on how it will safeguard users.  

“I'm seeing way more [inappropriate content] than I've ever seen … that would typically never go out on Instagram or Facebook, or any other platform, that are having free reign on Twitter. [It’s] just the world we live in right now,” Pascual said.  

The rise of hate speech on Twitter is driving some people to leave the platform and take their conversations elsewhere.  

Jarvis said that while he doesn’t want to leave Twitter, he is keeping an eye on his following and considering joining other credible platforms where users can find his reporting. 

As Twitter begins to shift, here are some useful tips to protect your data privacy: 

  • Set up two-factor authentication. This involves receiving a temporary code sent to your phone when logging in to prevent others from accessing your account. 

  • Download your Twitter archive. This allows you to view a snapshot of your Twitter information.  

  • Protect your tweets. If you protect your Tweets, you’ll receive a request when new people want to follow you, which you can approve or deny. Otherwise, your tweets are public by default. 

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