Elon Musk buying out Twitter brings in a new era of social media- Elon’s mission is to ‘fulfil Twitter’s extraordinary potential’ and open up free speech on a platform where the far right has been heavily censored. In a statement after striking the deal, he described the free speech as ‘the bedrock of a functioning democracy’.
Elon Musk has an enormous audience of 83.8 M followers. The SEC banned him from tweeting about Tesla affairs after one tweet wiped $14bn off its share price, and he was sued for defamation following a tweet about a cave diver, calling him a ‘pedo guy’.
Twitter & its shareholders -although initially unhappy about the offer- are now in support of Elon’s buyout after being offered $44 billion as well as previously acquiring 9.1% of the company’s stock for $2.64 billion. In comparison to other social media, Twitter is considerably less profitable – Twitter is optimistic about Elon’s buyout to make a more lucrative business.
Musk’s declaration that he wanted to see more ‘free speech’ and less moderation appealed to many Republicans, who have long felt that Twitter’s moderation policies favour the freedom of speech of left-leaning viewpoints.
But many fear this means Twitter will become an open space for misogyny, hate speech & more- especially since the left-leaning majority who do not support Elon plan to leave. Jameela Jamil tweeted her ‘last tweet’, saying she expects the platform to “become an, even more, lawless, hateful, xenophobic, bigoted, misogynistic space”.
In a Twitter thread, Amnesty International said: “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.”
Many Twitter users are also asking whether this means accounts suspended by the company will be allowed back.
The most high-profile person to have been suspended was Donald Trump. However, Trump has stated he wishes to remain on his social media, ‘Truth Social’.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” Trump told Fox News.
He added that he believed Musk, who he called a ‘good man’, will ‘make improvements’ to the platform.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that US President Joe Biden “has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms”.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn welcomed the agreement as ‘an encouraging day for freedom of speech’.
Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren said the deal was ‘dangerous for our democracy’ while pushing for a wealth tax and ‘strong rules to hold Big Tech accountable’.
Will people leave Twitter?
Musk said that he hopes that even his strongest critics will remain on the platform ‘because that is what free speech means’.
Jack Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter and still sits on its board, said he was happy the platform ‘will continue to serve the public conversation’, even though he does not believe ‘anyone should own or run Twitter’.
“It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company,” Dorsey said in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Solving for the problem of it being a company, however, Elon is the singular solution I trust,” Dorsey added. “I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.”
Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal has also addressed employees at a meeting, where he said the future of the company was uncertain, according to the Reuters news agency.
“Once the deal closes, we don’t know which direction the platform will go,” Agrawal reportedly said.
By Ruelle Sittampalam