(WGHP) — So Elon Musk is buying Twitter. Now, the world is asking the same question: What changes might be in store under the leadership of the same tech mogul who, among his antics, helped to fuel the virality of Dogecoin on social media and named one of his children after a jet?

After the Monday announcement that Twitter and Elon Musk agreed on a $44 billion price tag for the company, Musk took to none other than Twitter to celebrate and outline his plan.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he posted Monday. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

Let’s break down what that means.

“Enhancing the product with new features”

This is the most mysterious of Musk’s plans for the platform.

In recent history, the platform has undergone a near-constant flow of smaller changes, but the most well-known change was the decision to up the character limit on posts from 140 characters to 280 back in 2017. This change likely drew so much attention because it would affect the platform’s entire population, but there have been other, more subtle changes that you may or may not know about.

Spaces was a new feature implemented globally in May 2021. The concept was to allow influencers with more than 600 followers to open up live audio chatrooms. In these Spaces, the host has the authority to moderate the room by determining who can join and who can speak.

“Twitter Blue” hit the United States (and New Zealand) in November 2021 after releasing earlier in Australia and Canada. This new kind of account comes with a monthly $2.99 charge and offers a number of features. For example, Blue offers more customization options, an “Undo Tweet” option and “ad-free articles” which automatically block ads on third-party news sites visited from Twitter (while compensating Twitter’s news partners in exchange).

On April 5, the company announced that its team was working on an “Edit” feature. Currently, the only way to fix an error in a post would be to delete the original post and create a new post, losing all of the post’s engagement in the process. The fear was that, if users could freely edit posts, a user could edit their post to change its meaning after others have already shared the post to their profiles. It’s unclear how exactly this feature would work.

“Making the algorithms open source to increase trust”

A social media platform’s “algorithm” is perhaps the most central part of a user’s experience. Different social media companies use different approaches to determine what you see when you scroll through your feed. These companies, such as Twitter, Facebook and TikTok, are notorious for keeping the secrets of their algorithms behind locked doors.

Twitter describes its algorithm thusly:

“An algorithmic Home timeline displays a stream of Tweets from accounts you have chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations of other content we think you might be interested in based on accounts you interact with frequently, Tweets you engage with, and more. As a result, what an individual sees on their Home timeline is a function of how they interact with the algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed.”

That, however, is not the only option. Twitter gives users a choice: you can go with Twitter’s algorithmic timeline or you can choose to see your timeline chronologically. There are downsides to both. Users are essentially asked to choose between potentially seeing their friend’s posts buried under the glut of posts from news outlets and company pages in the chronologic view or entrusting Twitter to tell you what is and is not important for you to see in the algorithmic view.

Because so little is known about these social media algorithms, theories run rampant about the nature of the proverbial man behind the curtain. Because so many social media users consume content through the feed as opposed to directly visiting creators’ pages, a sudden decline in engagement may appear suspicious. Some users claim that social media platforms “shadow ban” users by intentionally preventing their posts from appearing on others’ feeds to control public conversation.

Just days before reaching an agreement with Twitter, Musk used the term himself on the platform. On April 22, Musk posted an image mocking Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. He followed the post with the comment, “shadow ban council reviewing tweet …” and an image of six cloaked figures standing in a semi-circle in a dark room, the implication being that Twitter’s “shadow ban council” would consider hiding his content due to his criticism of Gates.

“Defeating the spam bots”

Spambots are a well-documented issue on Twitter, as well as other social media platforms. These automated accounts, largely operated by scammers, shady private companies and other bad actors, can do damage in a number of ways, from stealing your personal information to spreading harmful misinformation.

Twitter added a new feature in September 2021 to help users identify “Good Bots.” In an example provided, Twitter displays the hypothetical page Local Weather News. Below the handle, there is text that reads, “Automated by @sweetsuzzie.” While it doesn’t help you gain insight into any of the bad bots out there, it does help you identify a bot that is only there to help.

“Authenticating all humans”

Likely connected to his spambots concern, Musk supports a requirement for new users to authenticate their accounts. It’s unclear exactly how this would manifest.

Currently, Twitter allows users to create accounts via Google, via Apple or using a phone number or email. It is possible to create an account using a fake email address and a fake identity.

Some users are authenticated—or as Twitter refers to it, “verified.” You can identify these users by the blue checkmark beside their names. This process is meant to make sure that no one can pretend to be a well-known public figure.

Twitter describes the Verified Accounts thusly:

The blue Verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be authentic, notable, and active.

A user hoping to be verified would be required to prove their authenticity by:

  • providing a link to an official website that includes both the user and the user’s Twitter account.
  • providing a photo of a valid official government-issued identification document, such as a driver’s license. This option is only open to individuals, not businesses, brands or organizations.
  • providing an official email address with a relevant domain. For individuals, this domain must be Verified on Twitter.

In its current incarnation, becoming Twitter Verified also requires that the user is notable. By Twitter’s definition, you’re notable if you can provide news articles about you from verified news outlets, a link to your profile on Google Trends, a link to a Wikipedia article about you or an industry-specific reference such as an IMDB page. Twitter also recognizes you as notable if your account is among the top .05% follower or mention count for your geographic region.

Musk hasn’t formally put forward a proposed authentication process, but authentication could look similar to the Twitter Verified process already in place—minus the notability requirement.