With the board of social network company Twitter agreeing to a $44 billion takeover deal from billionaire and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, many are surprised.
Musk made the deal only a week ago, and it was finalised rather quickly. Although the board of Twitter rejected his initial offer made on April 15th, they have now accepted the deal and have encouraged shareholders to vote in approval of the takeover.
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man according to Forbes, has a net worth of almost $300 billion. He is the CEO and principle shareholder of electronic vehicle company Tesla, as well as the founder of the aerospace firm SpaceX.
Musk is known for his often controversial and reactionary opinions on matters dealing with politics, health care, science, and gender. He donates money to both American Democrats and Republicans, considers himself an ‘absolutist’ in the matter of free speech, and relocated his business headquarters to Texas to avoid paying the state income tax.
He says Twitter has great unlocked potential, and that his plans for the app include a relaxing of restrictions on content and speech, as well as eradicating fake accounts. He also plans on possibly adding an edit button so that users can edit already published tweets.
Experts and users worry that these relaxations will mean revoking the ban on former US President Donald Trump and other right-wing figures who used the platform to push unverified statements as facts, most notably in the course of the COVID 19 pandemic, where there was a lot of misinformation about vaccines.
While Musk has not directly addressed the ban on Trump, his advocacy of absolutism in free speech could certainly make it possible for not only the return of Trump, but also an increase in hate speech on the app.