The on again, off again, off again, on again saga of tech billionaire Elon Musk’s planned acquisition of Twitter has finally come to an end. Having signed off on the deal reported to be worth as much as $44 billion, Musk has wasted no time in putting his unique stamp on the social media giant – firing several of Twitter’s top executives.
CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, Policy Chief Vijaya Gadde and General Counsel Sean Edgett are among the casualties, with Bloomberg reporting Edgett particularly was escorted from Twitter’s head office. That detail, if accurate, would suggest Musk is still holding onto some angst from the legal fallout of his initial backflipping on plans to buy Twitter earlier in the year.
But what does this change mean for Twitter users? Well, perhaps plenty. An outspoken libertarian, it has long been assumed that Musk’s taking over Twitter would see content moderation on the platform change dramatically, with the man himself all but confirming this. And further elements of Musk’s ambitions for Twitter’s future suggest even greater plans for how user experience on Twitter will change in the coming months.
The wild ride to now
Musk’s initial step on the journey to officially acquiring Twitter began even before he had tabled a deal for the platform. Musk slowly began purchasing shares in Twitter at the start of 2022 to become the social media company’s top shareholder by early April. Later that same month, the first signs of the reported $44 billion deal emerged.
Half a month later, in mid-May, the deal between Musk and Twitter abruptly stalled. Musk suggested that his discovery that Twitter allegedly contained more fake accounts and bots than he’d been led to believe was the impetus for his sudden change of heart.
Twitter wasn’t satisfied, however, filing a lawsuit in hopes of holding Musk to his end of the planned deal.
Legal proceedings soon began, but hadn’t progressed very far before achieving their desired outcome. Earlier this month, Musk finally conceded to going ahead with the deal, under conditions that all legal proceedings would promptly be paused.
Subsequent signs of the acquisition nearing its long anticipated endpoint reached a head only yesterday (October 27), with Musk tweeting footage of himself walking through Twitter’s doors holding… a sink.
Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in! pic.twitter.com/D68z4K2wq7October 26, 2022
Everything but the kitchen sink
If Musk himself is to be believed, the (begrudging) acquisition of Twitter is one he views as being a philanthropic venture. In a statement posted to his Twitter account, the divisive tech giant also offered suggestions about what kinds of changes he might have in mind for the social media platform now that he’s behind the wheel.
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk wrote. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”
“That is why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try and help humanity, whom I love.”
Typical of a long-time entrepreneur such as Musk, Twitter’s new owner also flagged plans to rework advertisement processes with the platform. In a bold statement, Musk suggested his aspirations for Twitter to become “the most respected advertising platform in the world”.
“Low relevancy ads are spam,” Musk wrote. “But highly relevant ads are content!”
In a personal text message released during the discovery process of the legal proceedings between Musk and Twitter, prominent Musk-pal and popular podcaster Joe Rogan asked the Tesla founder, “Are you going to liberate Twitter from the censorship happy mob?”
Musk does indeed plan to ‘liberate’ Twitter, but perhaps not in any way that might improve the experience for the majority of its users. More ads, less moderation appears to be the desired game plan for Twitter under Elon Musk and, with previous leaders already pushed out the door, that game plan is likely to come into full effect sooner rather than later.
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James is a senior journalist with the TechRadar Australia team, covering news, analysis and reviews in the worlds of tech and the web with a particular focus on smartphones, TVs and home entertainment, AR/VR, gaming and digital behaviour trends. He has worked for over six years in broadcast, digital and print journalism in Australia and also spent time as a nationally recognised academic specialising in social and digital behaviour trends. In his spare time, he can typically be found bouncing between one of a number of gaming platforms or watching anything horror.