Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, completed his $44bn (£38.1bn) takeover of Twitter six months after the deal was first announced. The purchase was never short of news, given Musk’s erratic tweeting and desire to place free speech at the heart of his ownership.
Musk appeared to be a fan of the hokey cokey when he tried to pull out of the purchase. But this month he abandoned his legal battle and delivered on his original bid.
The tech giant tweeted “the bird is freed” (a tweet which has amassed more than a million likes) and let his power be known. How? By sacking several top executives, including the chief executive, Parag Agrawal, and chief financial officer, Ned Segal. In Twitter HQ (San Francisco) when the deal was sealed, they were later escorted out.
With nearly 400 million users globally (and 200 million daily active users), Musk’s influence is vast. Not afraid of voicing his own political opinions, the billionaire declared himself a “free speech absolutist”, making users brace for the return of one Donald J. Trump.
How Twitter will fare under Musk’s leadership is anyone’s guess. His success in creating cars and space rockets would suggest managing a social media platform should be a piece of cake. Despite the wide-ranging perspectives towards his ownership, all can surely agree his desire to remove bots is a step in the right direction.
Yet the best explanation is perhaps from the man himself. Musk said he bought Twitter because “in the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fuelled and catered to those polarised extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost”. Whether Twitter becomes more open is yet to be seen but one thing’s for sure: Musk has certainly got people talking.
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