What a difference a week makes.
Just last week, there was speculation that Twitter’s board would invoke a “poison pill” of sorts to prevent Elon Musk from purchasing the social media company. This week, it appears Twitter has completely changed course and will proceed with allowing Elon Musk to complete his attempted takeover.
Twitter approved the buyout at a set price of $44 Billion, or $54.20 a share. That equals a 38 percent premium above what shares were trading at prior to the announcement. Elon Musk has promised to take Twitter private, and “unlock its extraordinary potential.” For years, Twitter has acted as a brand builder for influencers, a town hall for political figures, and a community builder for the curious.
Twitter has been massively transformative over the last few years in how we read and share news. It has also become, like most other social media networks, a breeding ground for those looking to spread hate speech and mis or disinformation. Elon Musk has referred to himself as a “free speech absolutist,” and wants to restore the company’s ability to protect and promote free speech. The tricky part here though, is free speech for whom, exactly?
The very notion of free speech could be set to undergo a massive transformation, as individuals have often used Twitter to share personal opinions disguised as facts. Hate groups use the service to spread their message, often reaching far larger audiences as a result of outrage retweets and quote tweets. With Elon Musk planning to take Twitter private, and away from the ever-watchful eyes of regulators, we could see the worst facets of “free speech” emerge as a result.
Twitter employees are divided about the buyout. Some are excited to see what the next chapter holds for the company, while others are concerned for both the future of the service and their jobs. The Chief Executive of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, and Peter Taylor Chair of Twitter’s board held a meeting with employees to address and acknowledge some of their concerns.
The deal won’t officially close for another three to six months, after a review from the DOJ and the FTC. The deal will likely go through unchallenged though, as Mr. Musk is not purchasing or merging competitors. Since neither of Musk’s current companies (SpaceX and Tesla) competes with Twitter, there will be little room for regulators to step up and challenge the deal.
Many users have taken to Twitter to discuss the impending purchase, and much like its employees, many of them are split about how this will impact usage in the future:
Elon Musk has finally set the blue bird free: pic.twitter.com/LXjzYCS2ZU— Mikey (@MikeDulaimi) April 25, 2022
Even Musk himself weighed in, saying:
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
One thing is for certain, when this deal is finalized, we’ll see the largest transformation from Twitter in years. Whether or not it’s a positive one remains to be seen.