Our timelines were rocked by the news of the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, striking a deal to purchase Twitter for $54.20 a share — valuing the firm at roughly $44 billion, according to CNBC. In a statement to announce the deal, Musk called Twitter “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated” and shared that he looks forward to unwrapping the company’s “tremendous potential.”
I’d call the reactions somewhat of a panic. Some seem fearful of what it could spell for the future of the social media network. Musk has vowed to fight for the idea of true free speech and suggests that Twitter (currently) engages in “censorship”. “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter,” he tweeted Monday. “Because that is what free speech means.” People are worried that in a fight to open the door for free speech, Twitter will welcome back users who some feel were rightfully banned for hateful tweets and misinformation. “It’s a bit concerning when you think about what Musk’s ideas mean in practice,” said Eric Jensen, a sociologist from the University of Warwick.
“If you try to pull the existing efforts to try to reduce the amount of abusive speech on Twitter, the amount of disinformation around COVID 19 […] that doesn’t mean there is better free speech,” Jensen told DW. “If the people with the loudest voices can abuse others into not participating, that’s not really free speech.”
His purchase almost guarantees that the company will become private, opening the door for changes to be made without the hoops of shareholders. Musk believes “the changes that need to be made to the platform can only be done if it’s a private company,” writes CNBC’s Nicolas Vega. It’s an idea that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey supports, too. “I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter. It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company,” he tweeted. “Solving for the problem of it being a company however, Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.”
This is my favorite part from Dorsey: “Twitter as a company has always been my sole issue and my biggest regret. It has been owned by Wall Street and the ad model. Taking it back from Wall Street is the correct first step.”
It’s no doubt that the social media platform is on the verge of undergoing a heavy shipment of changes. Question is, will you be a part of them?