elon musk buys twitter


After months of public wooing, the world’s richest man Elon Musk has struck a $44bn deal to buy Twitter. Announced yesterday (Monday April 25th, 2022), the acquisition puts the Tesla and SpaceX CEO in control of a social network with more than 200 million active daily users worldwide.


‘Twitter, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion,’ read the official press release. ‘Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.’


In the same announcement, Musk said Twitter has ‘tremendous potential’ that he will ‘unlock’ and outlined the key changes he hopes to make, namely surrounding free speech and the introduction of new features.


‘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,’ said Musk. ‘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 spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.’



free speech utopia or toxic twitter?


Musk has already made it clear that he envisions Twitter as a kind of unmoderated ‘town square’ for free speech. During a TED conference in Vancouver last week, the tech mogul commented, ‘Well I think it’s very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech. Twitter has become kind of the de facto town square, so it’s just really important that people have the, both the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.’


One month earlier, the self-described ‘free speech absolutist’ tweeted to his 83 million followers, ‘Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?’


Despite no details yet of what moderation changes will be made, critics have been quick to voice their concerns surrounding hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Human rights groups Amnesty International USA responded to the takeover news stating, ‘Regardless of ownership, Twitter has a responsibility to protect human rights, including the rights to live free from discrimination and violence and to freedom of expression and opinion – a responsibility that they already too often fail. We are concerned with any steps that Twitter might take to erode enforcement of the policies and mechanisms designed to protect users. The last thing we need is a Twitter that willfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech against users, particularly those most disproportionately impacted, including women, non-binary persons, and others.’




new features and spam bot crackdown


In addition to his calls for free speech, Elon Musk has also pledged to get rid of Twitter bots that spam users’ feeds, which he plans to do by authenticating all real humans.



The new Twitter owner has also hinted at plans to remove ads from the platform and to make its algorithm open source to garner public trust. Musk has also toyed with the idea of an ‘edit’ button, allowing users to modify their tweets after posting much like other social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. On April 5th, he polled his Twitter followers asking ‘Do you want an edit button?’ Out of 4,406,764 votes, 73.6% responded ‘yes’. Musk followed up the vote by suggesting, ‘The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.’



Jack Dorsey calls it the ‘singular solution’ he trusts


Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has voiced his full support for the acquisition, calling it the ‘right path’ and the ‘correct first step’ by taking the company private as opposed to publicly traded on Wall Street.



Dorsey continued the Twitter thread by saying, ‘In principle, I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter. It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company. Solving for the problem of it being a company however, Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.’


Dorsey, who stepped down as Twitter CEO in November 2021, added, ‘Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is ‘maximally trusted and broadly inclusive’ is the right one… This is the right path…I believe it with all my heart.’



images courtesy of TED