Elon Musk promises to change the way Twitter works
On Friday morning, billionaire Elon Musk began his first full day as the owner of Twitter. Both his opponents and Musk’s fans are eagerly awaiting news of how the richest man on the planet will run one of the world’s leading social networks.
After months of uncertainty and rumors, the $44 billion bid to buy Twitter has been approved, and now users can see his plans.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted, “The bird is free,” making a humorous reference to the social network’s logo. Before that, he wrote that he made the purchase “to help the humanity I love.”
Nevertheless, the idea that Musk would run Twitter alarmed activists, who fear a surge of harassment and the spread of misinformation. European politicians were quick to warn him that the continent has its own rules for social media companies.
“In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules,” EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton tweeted Friday in response to Musk’s tweet.
Musk promised Thursday that Twitter would not turn into a place where you can “say whatever you want without consequences.”
Earlier, he had promised to do away with content moderation. He was also expected to allow former U.S. President Donald Trump to return to the platform.
Far-right users rushed to rejoice at Musk’s purchase of the social network, believing that moderation rules would now be relaxed.
Among the first actions by Musk, who took over the company on Thursday, was firing CEO Parag Agrawal and other Twitter executives, though the company did not respond to AFP’s request for comment and Agrawal still lists himself as CEO on his Twitter profile.
Agrawal had previously gone to court to force Musk to comply with the deal, and the takeover happened just before the deadline set by the judge.
Musk, who uses his own money, wealthy investors’ money and bank loans to finance the deal, admitted that he was overpaying for a company that regularly makes huge losses.
According to the company itself, it has 238 million daily users, less than Facebook with its 2 billion users. At the same time, Twitter has not yet been able to monetize in the same way as its competitors.
Nevertheless, the service has a huge impact on the public debate, being a favorite platform for many companies, politicians, journalists and other public figures.
However, Musk has expressed frustration about the moderation of content by the company’s previous management, and critics fear that his arrival will be seen as a green light for hate speech and misinformation.
Musk is already the head of the car company Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX, and it is unclear what his role at Twitter is, although unconfirmed reports suggest that he may become the company’s interim CEO.
The closing of the deal marks the culmination of a long tussle between the billionaire and the social network. Musk tried several times to back out of the deal after his unsolicited offer was accepted in April, accusing Twitter of misleading him about the number of accounts of so-called “bots” – fake users.
Twitter rejected his claims, eventually filing a lawsuit to force Musk to comply with the agreement. As the court hearing approached, the unpredictable billionaire capitulated and resumed his plan to take over the social network.
Some employees have already quit the firm because of Musk’s takeover, said an employee who wished to remain unnamed. “But some people, including myself, are willing to give him the presumption of innocence at this point,” the employee said.
Former President Donald Trump welcomed the sale of Twitter to Ilon Musk, though he did not answer a question of interest about his possible return to the platform.
“I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands and will no longer be run by left-wing lunatics and maniacs who genuinely hate our country,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
The former president was blocked on Twitter after Jan. 6, 2021, because of fears that he would provoke more violence to reverse his electoral defeat.
“Now Twitter has to work hard to get rid of all the bots and fake accounts that have hurt it so much. It will be much smaller but better,” Trump added.
However, not all observers are happy about the upcoming changes. Renowned media critic Jeff Jarvis warned that Musk’s immediate firing of the company’s management doesn’t bode well.
“He’s not ‘cleaning up.’ He’s purging the company of responsible adults with experience and knowledge,” Jarvis wrote.
Activist and writer Amy Siskind said Musk could reduce Twitter’s popularity by running it in “manual mode.”
“You are now at the mercy of a narcissistic child whose ego is inflated by dictators. What could possibly go wrong?” – she wrote.