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How Elon Musk can improve free speech on Twitter?

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Introduction

We all already know that Elon Musk bought Twitter for gazillions of dollars. Some people liked that, others did not. It does not affect me because I am not famous on Twitter (yet).

After the acquisition, Musk stated that his first plan is to make the algorithm that ranks tweets in the content feed open source, in order to increase transparency. He has also stated his intention to remove spambots and “authenticate all real humans”.

Most importantly, Musk stated that he believed in the company’s “potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe”. This is where my simple feature comes into play.

The Feature

Like other social media, Twitter is known for people that spread lies and misinformation, usually for their own benefit. Right now, posting a new Tweet is very simple – you just input some content into Tweet form and click ‘Tweet’. That means everybody can write anything no matter if it is a lie or truth. This is where my feature comes into play.

The feature is really simple – just add an extra field to the Tweet form called Source. The source field would have two options from which users can choose:

  • Me – this option would be used when the user stands behind his words.
  • URL – for this option user can input an URL as a source for his claims

And that is it! If this feature is implemented, all new Tweets would have the source so you can read more about it on some other website or you can decide do you trust that Tweet when the user put himself as the source.

Now you may ask the question – Why would any user put any URL as a source? Well, let’s examine two situations for the same Tweet. Let’s say that the user wants to tweet “The Earth is flat.”

  • In the first situation user puts the source as ‘Me’. That would result in other users laughing and mocking that user.
  • In other situation, the user adds an URL https://www.theonion.com/. Now that user is respected and you know you can trust him in the future.

As you can see the same Tweet can have different contexts based on the source. And just like that, we helped to improve free speech on Twitter.

But that is not everything! If for some reason the user doesn’t want to set the source or tries to input some fake URL then Twitter will automatically set his source as ‘My ass’. That way you can easily see who tries to spread misinformation.

Let’s now see how to implement such a feature.

How hard can it be?

Implementing such a feature should not be a problem. Source: Me – I am a web developer who implemented many similar features and I can claim that it is not hard to do that.

Let’s just for simplicity of explanation assume that Twitter is a monolith web application. That means that all Tweets are stored in a single table inside a relational database. That table is probably called ‘Tweets’ and probably has the following columns – Id, User name, Tweet content, and Timestamp.

Current Tweets table

All we need is to add a new column ‘Source’ that is type text and it is nullable.

Proposed feature in the Tweets table

That is all for database changes. On the backend, we would need to add validation for the ‘Source’ property. If that field is empty or if it is not a valid URL then validation would need to set that field to ‘My ass’. Simple as that.

On the frontend, we would need to extend the Tweet form so it has the ‘Source’ field. Also, all tweets in the timeline would need to show ‘Source’ under every tweet content.

Twitter timeline after implementation of the feature

As you can see, this is probably one of the simplest features that Tweeter ever implemented. I am sure they can deploy it without testing. It will work 100%. That way free speech is improved as fast as possible.

Conclusion

Simple features like this can improve things on the internet so much. The next step is to Tweet this post Elon Musk so it can be done as soon as possible. Or you can retweet my tweet so Elon can see it!

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