How the “absolutist of freedom of speech” Elon Musk would transform Twitter | Twitter

It turns out he wasn’t in goblin mode after all. Last week, Elon Musk, in his typical antique style, tweeted a series of suggestions for improving Twitter after it was revealed that he had become the largest individual shareholder. They ranged from whether the site’s headquarters should be turned into a homeless shelter to whether the ad should be removed from the platform’s first-class service.

Many of these tweets were subsequently deleted, including one sharing a meme depicting lawyer Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad with the words, “Honestly, your honor, my client was in goblin mode.”

Whether Musk was naughty or not at the time – it’s hard to say with the richest man in the world – we have to take these tweets very seriously now that he’s offered more than $ 40 billion (£ 30 billion) to buy microblogging site.

Given Twitter’s key role in shaping the news and political agenda on both sides of the Atlantic, its ownership is a sensitive issue, especially if it is about to be handed over to a $ 260 billion entrepreneur. Not only is Musk one of the site’s most popular accounts with 81.6 million followers, he is the CEO of two companies – electric car maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX – that intersect with the regulatory and political spheres.

“Beltway and the EU will have a field day with this,” said Dan Ives of the American investment firm Wedbush Securities. “Musk owns Twitter is a nightmare for many and it will go through regulatory scrutiny on both sides of the lake. However, Ives does not see competing traders exceeding Musk’s offer of $ 54.20 per share. Musk has a lot of money and a share of 9.2%, which gives him a strong position, as the Twitter board – which he refused to join over the weekend – is considering his next move.

The change is on the cards if he succeeds. Musk said in a letter to the board on Thursday that Twitter was a “platform for free speech around the world” but could not achieve this “public imperative” in its current form and “needs to be transformed as a private company”.

His main concern seems to be Twitter’s moderation policies. In March, he tweeted a poll asking users if the site adheres to the principle of freedom of speech. “Given that Twitter serves as a de facto public city square, non-compliance with the principles of freedom of speech fundamentally undermines democracy,” he said. “What needs to be done?” He called himself an “absolutist of freedom of speech,” and in that context, former US President Donald Trump, banned by Twitter, probably hopes Musk’s candidacy will succeed.

However, the regulatory environment for social media is becoming increasingly stringent. In the United Kingdom, the forthcoming online safety bill will require platforms to closely monitor their content for harm such as aggregation (one of Twitter’s nastiest phenomena). Even if the site is privately owned, it will not be able to deter lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic who want to make the Internet a safer place.

Other suggestions from Musk are less controversial. Last week, he asked users if they wanted an edit button to rewrite posts after launch, prompting the company to confirm that it was still working on such a feature. He also discussed changes to first-class Twitter Blue, such as removing advertising, which raises the prospect of radically leaving the business, which accounts for 90 percent of its $ 5 billion in annual advertising revenue.

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The main concern of Twitter investors is the growth in terms of advertising revenue and subscribers, as similar ones to TikTok provide fierce competition for the attention of users. Given Musk’s focus on free speech, consumer growth is likely to come into focus if the company comes under his ownership.

According to the latest quarterly results on Twitter, daily active users grew by 25 million during the year to 217 million, as the company adheres to its target of 315 million by the end of next year.

Last week’s drama had to add a few more users, and given the likely hurdles Musk must overcome before gaining control of the business, the platform is still not in danger of losing its relevance.

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