On April 25, 2022, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, struck a tentative deal, purchasing Twitter for $44 billion. While he isn’t the first billionaire to step into a media-adjacent space, the move leaves users and members of the general public with many questions.
Will the acquisition lead to a new beginning for Twitter — or does it signal the end of Twitter as people know it? (For starters, Musk has already mentioned that he’ll take Twitter, which has been publicly traded for about a decade, private in a few years.) And, most importantly, is Musk’s purchase even worth worrying about? Ultimately, whether you find the purchase concerning or exciting is primarily a matter of perspective. However, if you’re on the fence, here are some points you may want to consider.
What Are Twitter Users (and the General Public) Focused on Now?
When news of Musk’s pending purchase broke, Twitter users and members of the general public turned their attention to three key areas:
- How will Musk’s views on free speech impact the platform?
- Will Musk reinstate banned users?
- And will an “edit” button ultimately make its way to Twitter?
Want to know a bit more? Let’s break down each of those topics one-by-one.
Musk and Free Speech
One point that has Twitter users and the general public divided involves how Musk may alter the platform’s standards in regards to speech. Generally, the tech giant considers himself a “free speech absolutist,” and has previously been critical of Twitter for what he feels is censorship.
However, while Musk has defended his own right to speak in certain fashions (as well as the rights of some of his supporters), his dedication to free speech on the whole doesn’t seem all-inclusive. For instance, some separation agreements, which laid-off Tesla employees have discussed, feature non-disparagement clauses without end dates, effectively barring the workers from sharing any negative or critical opinions of the company, its leaders and other associates, even if those thoughts are potentially justified and evidence-backed.
The topic of free speech vs. hate speech — particularly in regards to social media — is highly divisive. What’s considered the former in some people’s eyes falls well into the latter for others. Since Elon Musk’s definition of the terms may ultimately lead the way for Twitter, users and the general public are divided on whether the platform may change for the better or the worse.
Banned User Reinstatements
In a similar vein, many people are curious as to how Musk may handle previously banned users. Several high-profile accounts — including that of former president Donald Trump, congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Infowars-owner Alex Jones and writer Milo Yiannopoulos — could be targeted for reinstatement, depending on how Elon Musk views the bans.
Again, the topic is highly divisive. While some feel that the accounts above, among others, were unfairly shut down, others believe these accounts posted hate speech and/or spread misinformation, something many social media platforms have been allegedly cracking down on. Since that’s the case, how Musk proceeds does have potential ramifications, particularly when it comes to whether he’s viewed as a free speech or hate speech supporter.
The Much-Requested Edit Button
On a potentially less contentious point, Musk purchasing Twitter may bring about a feature that’s been long-desired by many: the edit button. While Twitter was reportedly already working on an edit button — and claimed a poll posted by Musk well before his acquisition of the company wasn’t relevant to that move — it’s yet to come to full fruition.
With Musk at the helm, development of the edit button may accelerate dramatically. While many people certainly find it enticing — fixing typos is always a plus, right? — others have voiced concern that editable content would fundamentally alter the platform and, potentially, encourage the spread of misinformation.
An edit button isn’t as risk-free as it may seem. A person could post an innocuous tweet, gather engagement, and then change the content of the tweet to something else — be it hate speech or information that’s not properly fact-checked. That could come with ramifications for those who liked, commented on, or retweeted the original message, particularly if they were unaware that the content changed after the fact.
What Elon Musk Buying Twitter Means for Employees
When news broke of Musk’s bid to buy Twitter, employees of the social media giant weren’t universally thrilled — but they also weren’t all up in arms, either. Instead, just as users and the general public are divided, so is Twitter’s staff.
Some employees fear that Musk will effectively gut moderation on the platform, potentially leaving it ripe for conspiracies, scams, hate speech, and more. Others are concerned about the fundamentals, such as pay reductions or layoffs that could come with a major overhaul. While current Twitter leadership attempted to assuage many fears, the future of Twitter from an operational standpoint is unclear. Once the deal closes, the current board of directors will cease to exist. That alone creates a significant amount of uncertainty.
Similarly, while there are laws that outline certain content moderation requirements, the rules for private companies are generally looser than public ones. While Musk couldn’t inherently act in any manner he sees fit, there may be fewer safeguards once he assumes control.
However, not all view the situation negatively. Some employees see this as a potential opportunity for innovation and growth. Others are simply choosing to roll with the possible changes, reserving judgment until a degree of clarity is achieved.
So, Should You Care That Elon Musk Is Buying Twitter?
How you feel about Musk buying Twitter is, in the end, a personal choice. The SpaceX founder assuming control of the platform could lead to some significant changes — for better or worse.
While Musk’s free speech track record is mixed, it ultimately isn’t clear how his perspective would alter (if at all) content moderation and free speech standards on the platform. Additionally, he hasn’t stated whether any reinstatements would actually occur, leaving that up in the air — although Twitter’s current leadership noted that the power to reinstate banned users would rest firmly in Musk’s hands. As of now, even the future (and status) of the edit button is uncertain.
If you’re a Twitter investor, the fact that Musk’s goal is to take the company private is something you should be aware of; after all, shareholders do still have a say, which impacts whether or not the sale will move forward. Right now, there are still more approvals to navigate before the $44 billion deal closes.
However, if it does close, investors will get a set amount of cash based on the stock they hold. After that, their portfolio is Twitter-free, something which may be cause for concern depending on your portfolio size and composition. Plus, you may have to contend with taxes. All of this being said, some investors are looking at Twitter alternatives now instead of later, ensuring they have a plan for what many believe to be an inevitable deal.