X for Free Speech and Citizen Journalism

Elon Musk’s vision of making X an all-inclusive, no-holds-barred news outlet is coming to fruition

With the ongoing Israel-Palestine crisis, reporters from media publications have been scrambling to cover the condition. However, citizens in these areas turned to X to share the situation at ground zero. Alarming visuals from every corner has found its way to the internet, and today, X is serving as the quintessential news outlet that everyone needs.  

Donning a black cowboy hat, aviator shades and a casual tee, Elon Musk, the Chief of Tesla and the head of X, recently visited the Eagle Pass Border (Texas-Mexico), to meet with local politicians and law enforcement, with the intention of capturing  the ground reality of the illegal immigrant crisis. Streaming the coverage live on X, Musk used the opportunity to also demonstrate how one can use his social media platform to cover news as and when it happens. Thus, encouraging ‘citizen journalism’, and laying the foundation for making X the next big news platform. 

Leading By Example

Elon Musk has always been clear about his intentions on making his social media platform, a free space to express anything. After acquiring Twitter (now called X), Musk hailed ‘free speech’ and called it the ‘bedrock of a functioning democracy.’ True to his word, as a first step, Musk reinstated accounts of banned users including a number of journalists and ring-wing supporters. Former President of the US, Donald Trump’s account was also brought back to the platform – setting a fair play ground for all. Interestingly, Musk recently went a step further by even removing the option of blocking any user on X (only DM messages can be blocked).

Move Over, Legacy Media

Musk’s conflict with legacy media houses has been an ongoing tussle. He has been vocal about promoting the platform as a place for any political leaning supporter. He even recently took a dig at publications that are always left-leaning and assured X to be a place that will have both ‘left and right’ perspectives. Interestingly, a number of publications have been extensively covering Musk. 

Musk believes that Community Notes, a feature on X that is controlled by the users as a whole, allows flagging misleading posts, which he believes, makes it ‘harder to lie on the platform.’

When Tucker Carlson, a political commentator and TV talk show host, was ousted by Fox News, Elon Musk offered him to exclusively premier his talk show ‘Tucker on X’ with no form of gate-keeping. The episode where Carlson interviewed Donald Trump garnered over 250M views in 24 hours. 

Furthermore, the video feature on X is tested for streaming games– a new feature that Musk has been experimenting with off late. 

Incentivising User Content

If inviting people to post anything without any restriction was not enough, X also started paying content creators. CEO of X, Linda Yaccarino confirmed that the company has paid close to $20 million to their creator community. Content creators are paid for ad revenue based on impressions of their original content- a feature available for paid users on the platform. 

Innovation strategist and tech blogger Robert Scoble, famous Youtuber Marques Brownlee, among others, have started posting full-length interviews and product review videos on X.

Word of Caution

The simplicity and ease with which one can easily cover and report anything from anywhere with a mere phone in hand, has popularised citizen journalism for a while. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Tik Tok and even Twitter have been the choice for users to host images and videos on critical issues. May it be the Russia-Ukraine crisis or the recent Israel-Palestine conflict, live video footage of the situation has been uploaded on the platform. 

While citizen journalism can empower people to share first-hand accounts of events, accuracy and verification of information becomes crucial. With the rise of deepfake and AI-generated content, the likelihood of spreading fake news still looms. A few months ago, a fake image of an explosion near the Pentagon went viral, with leading news houses sharing the image. The incident rocked the financial markets and highlighted the danger of fast-spreading misinformation on social platforms. 

While the act of individual reporting can never become fool-proof, community notes is one of X’s strongest feats to counter it. Irrespective, the platform’s ambition to drive traffic and boost user engagement is already working. A new era of journalism might have already begun.

Vandana Nair
As a rare blend of engineering, MBA, and journalism degree, Vandana Nair brings a unique combination of technical know-how, business acumen, and storytelling skills to the table. Her insatiable curiosity for all things startups, businesses, and AI technologies ensures that there's always a fresh and insightful perspective to her reporting.

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