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Elon Musk Is Officially Buying Twitter. What Now?

Twitter has agreed to Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer for Twitter, and will become a private company owned by Musk.

It’s the latest and by far biggest development in a roller coaster few weeks that involved Musk acquiring part of the company to join the board. That deal ultimately fell through, but has ended with one of the largest social media purchases in history. “Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world,” said Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal in a statement. “Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important.”

Musk issued his own statement, saying that “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”

“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all Humans,” he continued.

Musk has been openly critical of some of Twitter’s recent moves to enforce terms of service violations on some high profile accounts like the Babylon Bee and former President Donald Trump. It’s unclear whether or not the new ownership will be relaxing some of the rules on the app, but Musk has hinted at approval of doing so in the past. He calls himself a “free speech absolutist” and told Chris Anderson at a TED 2022 talk that “it’s just really important that people have the reality and the perception that they’re able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.”

“I think broadly, the civilizational risk is decreased the more we can increase the trust of Twitter as a public platform,” he continued.

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To that end, he’d discussed getting rid of ads from Twitter Blue, lowering subscription costs and accepting Dogecoin.

$44 billion is an enormous sum of money, and an SEC filing shows Musk’s payment plan will include $25.5 billion in loans and $21 billion in personal equity. It’s hard not to think about the other things that could have been done with that kind of money. The U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development estimates that it would take about $20 billion to end homeless in the country. CERES estimates that it would take $45 billion to end world hunger through the end of the decade. But obviously, those are the sorts of investments that don’t have much of a return. Not of the financial kind anyway.

But Twitter does have value, and Musk isn’t wrong about it acting as a public square for politicians, activists, influencers and even everyday laypeople who can attract a large following with the right sort of online personality. Twitter has brought a lot of attention to important causes that weren’t deemed important enough for cable news or major newspapers, and maintaining the across-the-board democratization of that platform will be a good thing. Of course, Twitter has also been a source of misinformation, toxic bullying and harassment, which is why some people aren’t “free speech absolutists” when it comes to the company’s terms. Musk’s opinion on that debate is obvious. Exactly if and how he’ll reshape Twitter to fit his vision remains to be seen.

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