The last week of April opened with news that sounds like something out of a fever dream. Business magnate and Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought Twitter. On April 25, the billionaire bought Twitter in a $44 billion deal that could reshape the Internet as we know it.
Under the terms of the Twitter deal, Elon Musk must pay $52.40 per share. The announcement capped off the weeklong episode the Tesla CEO kicked off when he announced his intentions of buying Twitter at that price. According to Musk, it was his “best and final offer.” Indeed, the final deal seemed like the best one since Musk secured $25.5 billion of debt and margin loan financing and will provide $21 billion for the social media platform.
So, the Elon Musk Twitter Takeover is final. But this deal has many people asking many questions, especially regarding the future of Twitter. There is a mixed reaction amongst users, investors and politicians. But everyone is united when it comes to wanting to hear more about Twitter’s future in the hands of Elon Musk.
Why Did Elon Buy Twitter?
Why would a billionaire like Elon Musk be so invested in Twitter?
According to Musk, Twitter’s service isn’t promoting free speech as much as he hoped. He considers his purchase “important to the function of democracy.” He insists that it’s not about the money; it’s all about having a platform that is “maximally trusted and broadly inclusive,” which he considers crucial to the future of society.
Similar to other social media platforms, Twitter is known for suspending accounts that violate content standards, which include harmful misinformation, hate speech or violence. When it suspended former President Donald Trump, its move angered many of his followers.
Elon Musk considers himself an absolutist for free speech, but he has blocked Twitter users who disagree with him, question him or heckle him. Despite all of these, the billionaire insists that he wants to make Twitter private and still open to free speech by removing spambots, open-sourcing the platform’s suggestion and moderation algorithms and tossing Twitter’s moderation guidelines.
Who Will Lead the Company?
One of the biggest questions concerning Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase is who the new CEO will be. Twitter’s current CEO, Parag Agrawal, has been CEO for just five months after taking over from co-founder Jack Dorsey. An aggressive Musk forced Agrawal the deal on him after the former quickly took nine percent of the stock.
As of now, there is no clear answer as to who will be Twitter’s new CEO.
Apart from discussions on the CEO, people are asking who the people on the board will be. Twitter’s board of directors, which is led by Bret Taylor, the co-CEO of Salesforce, is trying to fend off Musk’s hostile takeover. This happened after Musk went back on his commitment to be part of the board.
As the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk has the power to wipe the board slate clean. He has a long list of potential candidates who can help him.
How Much Control Does Elon Musk Have on Twitter Now?
According to Twitter, the company will be acquired by a business that is 100 percent owned by Elon Musk. However, this doesn’t say much about the amount of control the business magnate has over the social media platform.
Keep in mind: Elon Musk is the current CEO of SpaceX, which is valued at $100 billion, and Tesla, which has a market cap of $1 trillion. He also has startups like The Boring Company and Neuralink.
Will he be a hands-on owner? Or will he follow Jeff Bezos and let an independent management team run Twitter’s operations? The answer remains uncertain as it depends on the type of content moderation Musk plans to do, as well as if he’ll restore the accounts of banned individuals.
In terms of the workforce, Musk also has the power to control the new structure for employee pay. Existing rewards and stock grants are no longer meaningful. Will these perks be replaced with equity?
With the tech industry dealing with tight competition and pressure, employers are forced to keep what they’ve got. So, under these circumstances, why would employees stay at Twitter and why should they go there from somewhere else? And who will Musk keep from the team?
Why is Elon Buying Twitter a Big Deal?
Why do the stakes feel so big with Elon Musk’s decision to buy Twitter?
Twitter has a big influence on public discourse, and the uncertainty that comes with a billionaire — who is infamous for his unpredictable nature — taking over this platform can cause a stir.
The Twitterverse is composed of activists, intellectuals, entertainers, business leaders and highly influential politicians. Many Twitter users are public figures with many followers who can shape the public discussion surrounding technology, finance, media and politics. In fact, more than two-thirds of Twitter’s users from the United States consider the platform an important source of news.
It seems that Twitter’s power to set agendas interests Musk. This is what also worries other users since his control could be disruptive.
Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter occurs in the midst of ongoing societal debates, which include discussions on the influence and power of billionaires; the responsibilities of tech platforms to their users and the impact of mis- and disinformation. By becoming the owner of Twitter, he collapsed many of these threads into one.
Despite his claims to make Twitter inclusive, his want of making the space private reduces the transparency of an essential social media platform. It’s not just about deleted tweets. It’s about saying that you’re for free speech, but subtly constricting content.
What does this mean for Twitter’s daily content? No one knows yet. Elon Musk has avoided talking about the specifics concerning his Twitter takeover. But it seems as if his objection to the site’s approach is rooted in how much content moderation Twitter needs. Nevertheless, the framing of his deal combined with the reaction of users is sure signs that this decision will impact the future of online speech.
Twitter has a big influence online so downshifting its content moderation guidelines could negatively impact the user experience, particularly for vulnerable users like women, people of color and the LGBTQIA+ community.
With Elon Musk shaking the world with his purchase of Twitter, there are so many questions tossed up in the air. One thing is certain: people want to keep Twitter space for free speech but free from users who abuse the platform. Here’s to hoping the Tesla CEO keeps things that way.