Within weeks of purchasing Twitter in October, Elon Musk was reporting record user growth at the company. Many existing accounts, meanwhile—perhaps more than 1 million in a six-day period—were deactivated or suspended as many users expressed concern over changes at the company, including in its efforts toward content moderation. The European Union has gone so far as to threaten to ban Twitter if it fails to adhere to the bloc’s moderation rules.

Even concerned users may be reticent to leave, however, as few alternatives offer comparable reach. Will network effects prevent users who might otherwise leave Twitter from finding another platform? Does Twitter’s content moderation and protection of user data require more government intervention? Chicago Booth’s Initiative on Global Markets consulted its US and European panels of economic experts to find out.

Franklin Allen, Imperial College London
“Twitter is widely used and extensively reported on. It is difficult for any rival to challenge this, as President Trump’s experience demonstrates.”
Response: Agree

Richard Schmalensee, MIT
“An advantage, yes, but no reason to expect it will substantially slow migration. MySpace fell to Facebook rapidly, and Facebook displaced other networks overseas rather quickly.”
Response: Disagree

Richard H. Thaler, Chicago Booth
“Is this a question about network externalities or a prediction of the future? Because status quo bias is also a big factor. People stick to, say, banks even after fraud convictions. Either way, Twitter will be hard to topple.”
Response: Uncertain

Olivier Blanchard, Peterson Institute
“Twitter has incentives to get clicks, and thus to allow extreme views and intense, polarizing discussions. Not the same as optimizing distribution of information.”
Response: Agree

Kenneth Judd, Stanford
“I see no reason why content regulation on Twitter should exceed regulation of newspapers and magazines, or regulation of what material is sent via US Mail. Twitter is just a cheaper way of communication. Privacy protections are necessary.”
Response: Disagree

Ricardo Reis, London School of Economics
“Depends on which type of regulation. Some forms of government regulation of media content are tools for totalitarianism.”
Response: Disagree

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