Ana Perez, 10th Grade
The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has completed a $44 billion dollar deal to takeover Twitter, according to a filing from the US government. After the deal, Elon Musk tweeted ‘the bird has been freed.’ This brings to an end the months-long negotiations between the board of directors and Elon Musk.
After Musk first made his bid to buy Twitter, he backed out of the deal, claiming that an ‘inflated amount of user numbers’ had made him reconsider his offer. Moreover, until three weeks ago, Musk was desperate to not buy Twitter. He made an official statement right after obtaining the social media platform where he stated “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important for the future of civilization to have a common digital town square.” But, he was desperately attempting to avoid purchasing Twitter and only did so to avoid a lawsuit from the company that would force Musk to buy the social media network anyway. Speaking in financial terms, Twitter is not a profitable business, which is why many think Musk made a bad business decision. Twitter has only been profitable during two years of its lifetime – 2018 and 2019 – only to continue their losses with an impressive $1 billion lost in 2020 and $222 million in 2021. Since the deal to buy Twitter involved taking $12.5 billion in loans, Twitter will have to come up with $1 billion in profits to service this debt.
Before the acquisition, Musk had made it clear that he disagreed with various policies from Twitter’s management, claiming that they had been lying about their user numbers; he also said he would reverse bans on suspended users, which might meet certain public figures such as Donald Trump could come back to the Twitter spotlight. Now, users are left to wonder how exactly will Twitter change under new leadership.
The first significant transformation Twitter will undergo is a change in staff. Senior executives at Twitter were fired soon after the acquisition including Paul Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, Legal and Policy Executive Vijaya Gadde, and former Chairman Bret Taylor. In a bid to cut costs, Musk plans to lay off 3,700 employees. A report obtained by Bloomberg states that the affected employees will be informed of the decision on Friday. It also claims that a quarter of staff will be cut from Twitter during the first round of layoffs. Musk is also planning to reverse the ‘work from anywhere’ policy by requiring staff members to work from the office, although exceptions can be made in certain situations.
The second biggest change, and the one Twitter users are worried about the most, is platform content. Twitter is considered to be a hellsite by many due to its share of harassment, verbal abuse, toxicity, and more. Many Twitter users have expressed their concerns towards how Musk will affect the toxicity of the site, feeling that he will only add fuel to the fire. However, earlier this week, he tweeted that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hell-scape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” A sizable portion of users believes Musk’s relaxed free speech policies will prompt misinformation and hateful content to receive a platform while others believe that Twitter will improve under Elon Musk. However, there is evidence to back up the first claim. A new study by the Toronto Star (2022) claims that the usage of the n-word has increased by 500% ever since Elon Musk closed the Twitter deal. This could mean that the site’s moderation has decreased or that certain Twitter users feel emboldened by the deal. But, over 50,000 of these tweets containing hateful content come from just 300 accounts, which means that a relatively small number of users is spreading this type of content.
Yet, it seems that some will disregard whatever lenient policies Musk imposes, since Thierry Breton tweeted “In Europe, the bird will fly by our EU rules.” This might mean that European regulators could take a tougher stance against relaxed Twitter policies. While Musk has announced a ‘diverse moderation council with different viewpoints,’ Schwarz (2022) explains that “he will feel constantly compelled to either explain why he’s standing by his underlings’ moderation decisions, or reverse them.” Others fear that all of Musk’s comments regarding the “importance of free speech” are all lies, since he tweeted back in May that “Twitter should delete tweets that are wrong and bad.”
Since the change in management is relatively new, we don’t know how exactly the platform will develop in the future. The future of Twitter is not set in stone. It is far too early into the new era of Twitter to see how the website will turn out. But, we do know that change is coming for the social media mogul. But if we want to know whether it’ll be a positive change or a negative one… we’ll have to wait and see.
- Hoskins, P. C. J. B. &. (2022, October 28). Elon Musk takes control of Twitter in $44bn deal. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-63402338
- Reuters. (2022, November 3). Elon Musk plans to cut half of Twitter jobs: Report. Business Today. https://www.businesstoday.in/jobs/story/elon-musk-plans-to-cut-half-of-twitter-jobs-report-351642-2022-11-03
- The Intercept. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://theintercept.com//10/28/elon-musk-twitter/
- Murphy, A. (2022, October 31). Use of N-word, racial slurs up more than 500% on Twitter post-Musk, says new report. thestar.com. https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/10/31/use-of-n-word-racial-slurs-up-more-than-500-on-twitter-post-musk-says-new-report.html