By Judith Gicobi
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, agreed to acquire Twitter for $44 billion on Monday, ending a drama that included hostile takeover threats before handing him personal control of one of the world’s most powerful social media networks.
Former US President Donald Trump used Twitter as a platform before being banned, and Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist,” has indicated he wants to overhaul what he regards as the platform’s overzealous content management.
“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,” Musk said in a Twitter message.
“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.”
Advocacy groups, on the other hand, were concerned about the type of content Musk might allow on the platform, and Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP civil rights organization, tweeted, “Do not allow Twitter to become a petri dish for hate speech, misinformation or disinformation. Protecting our democracy is of utmost importance.”
According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, “no matter who owns or runs Twitter,” President Joe Biden, a Twitter user, is “concerned about the power of large social media platforms.”
In New York, Twitter’s shares ended 5.6 percent higher.
Musk purchased a 9% interest in Twitter in April and then offered to buy the firm altogether, citing a mission to preserve free expression as justification.
Musk’s efforts have sparked optimism about Twitter’s commercial possibilities, despite the fact that it has struggled to achieve sustainable growth in spite of its critical role in culture and politics.