Elon Musk has finally won a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. The deal will see the most influential social media company change ownership to the world’s richest person.
Musk has openly condemned Twitter’s moderation and punishment, including suspension of some accounts. The self-proclaimed free speech advocate now wants Twitter’s algorithm for prioritizing tweets to be made public.
Conservatives have cheered the possibility of limited controls, with their hopes raised high that the former US President, Donald Trump, among other suspended people will be allowed back to Twitter.
On the other hand, some human rights activists, legislators and social media experts have voiced fears of a rise in hate speech and misused freedom of speech, of Twitter under Musk.
Musk has also advocated user-friendly changes to the platform, such as an edit button and defeating “spam bots” that send many undesirable tweets.
“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,” Musk said in a statement.
Discussions over the deal, which last week appeared unclear, gained momentum over the weekend after Musk wooed Twitter shareholders with financing details of his offer.
Consequently, Twitter started negotiating with Musk to buy the company at his proposed $54.20 per share price. He clinched the deal.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in on the deal on Monday with a series of tweets that thanked both Musk and current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal for “getting the company out of an impossible situation.”
“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,” he said.
Twitter shares rose 5.7% on Monday to finish at $51.70. The deal represents a near 40% premium to the closing price the day before Musk disclosed he had bought a more than 9% stake.
Jonathan Boyar, the managing director at Boyar Value Group, which holds a stake in Twitter lamented the fact that Twitter failed to transform and achieve its potential success, a thing that has seen it sold to Musk.
“I think if the company were given enough time, we would have made more than what Musk is currently offering,” Boyar said
Musk’s move continues a tradition of billionaires’ buying control of influential media platforms, including Jeff Bezos’ 2013 acquisition of the Washington Post.
Musk, who is worth $268 billion according to Forbes, has said he is not mainly concerned with the economics of Twitter.
“Having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization. I don’t care about the economics at all,” he said in a recent public talk.
Musk is chief executive of both electric car maker Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX, and it is not clear how much time he will devote to Twitter or what he will do.