Elon Musk Wants to Buy Twitter. Now What?

Elouise Spencer - 18 May 2022

Why does the world’s wealthiest man want to purchase Twitter and take it private?

Elon Musk has offered approximately $44 billion for the social platform – because he believes that as the world’s virtual public square Twitter is failing at free speech and can be vastly improved.

With more than 80 million followers, Elon Musk has one of the most popular Twitter accounts – but has long expressed his apprehensions regarding the service.

Naturally, opinions on his plans have been starkly divided – with some favourable and some extremely unfavourable.

Hero or villain? Let’s take a closer look at what’s next for Elon Musk and Twitter.

Who is Musk and What are His Views?

Elon Musk was born and raised in South Africa, where he had an admittedly unhappy childhood. He moved to Canada at the age of 17 and eventually settled in the United States.

In America, he studied physics at the University of Pennsylvania, going on to garner initial successes as an entrepreneur with PayPal – before achieving global fame as the CEO of Tesla and CEO and lead designer of SpaceX.

From online financial services to electric cars and space travel, Musk has proven a visionary, so how has he come to be interested in the workings of Twitter, a social platform that seems to have served him well?

It’s true, Musk tweets prolifically and has accumulated a Twitter following rivalling major pop stars. However, he has become increasingly critical of the decisions and direction Twitter have been making over the past few years.

These include the way Twitter polices its users – most controversially he has cited the permanent banning of Donald Trump as a massive mistake. And there’s Twitter’s weak controlling of spam bots, which he sees as the platform’s biggest drawback.

What are Musk’s Plans for Twitter?

Before Musk’s deal came to light, there had been no other public bidders for Twitter. This has been seen as possible proof that would-be buyers have baulked at the challenge of taking on the social platform.

As for the complex free speech issue, content moderation experts who’ve taken long, hard looks at Twitter seem to have strong doubts that Musk really knows what he’s in for. After all, numerous alternative platforms have been set up precisely for reasons of free speech, and many have struggled with handling toxic behaviour and content that appears online.

Musk has said that Twitter has overstepped with its crackdowns on perceived hate speech, harassment, and misinformation. But while he considers himself a free speech absolutist, he has stated that Twitter should always adhere to what’s in the law.

Aside from the free speech issue, Musk wants to open up the platform’s algorithm so that the public can scrutinise it. Furthermore, his focus will be on four core areas – design, software engineering, infosec, and server hardware – which will be key in keeping Twitter relevant in the mainstream.

Twitter Improve Under Musk? We’ll See!

The prospect of Twitter tolerating someone like Donald Trump has left many to decry Musk’s brand of free speech as dangerous. Some have even threatened leaving Twitter, but we suspect much of this is performative outrage.

The truth is, only time will tell if Musk buying Twitter will be a success. Until then, Twitter is likely to remain a very contentious platform.

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