Whether he wanted to in the end or not, Elon Musk is going through with his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.
The back-and-forth between Tesla CEO Musk and Twitter’s board appears to be close to closing after months of uncertainty. On Wednesday, Musk shared a video of himself entering Twitter's offices, and a deal might be ironed out by Friday, Reuters reported.
The takeover saga started in April when Musk first struck a deal to buy Twitter. In July, concerns over the real number of spam accounts proliferating on the platform prompted Musk to try to exit the deal, sparking a legal challenge from Twitter that had been set to go to court this month.
Musk has since re-entered talks and seems set to close the deal this week, but caught in the crossfire of his will-he-won't-we story with Twitter have been its employees. They’ve followed Musk's possible ascent as the company's next CEO with trepidation after he promised to impose his trademark demanding leadership style on Twitter. Musk's promise to loosen content moderation policies also sparked fears among Twitter users that the platform could become even more of a destination for fake information and racism.
The deal is not over the line yet, and could still potentially be subject to a government inquiry into whether Musk’s bid involves foreign investors. Regardless, Musk tried calming the waters on Thursday with a statement published on his Twitter account, revealing his motivations behind the takeover and promising that the changes he had in mind would not facilitate disinformation and hate speech on the platform.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” he wrote.
“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 healthy beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” he added, saying that his vision for Twitter would counter polarization and extremism in traditional media.
“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 to help humanity, whom I love.”
'Common digital town square'
Musk says he wants to turn Twitter into a “common digital town square” where thoughts and opinions can be spread across ideological lines, although not everyone agrees with him.
Some of the incoming boss’ intended policy changes at Twitter include promoting free speech on the platform by loosening content moderation policies and reinstalling some previously blocked accounts—including that of Donald Trump, whom Twitter banned last year in the wake of his incendiary comments surrounding the Jan. 6 riots.
But in his quest to promote free speech, Musk may also facilitate the spread of disinformation on Twitter. When news of the deal broke in April, conspiracy theorists and far-right groups that had been banned from the platform—including QAnon—celebrated the looming acquisition, hoping that Musk could reinstall their accounts as well.
In his statement on Thursday, Musk insisted that Twitter would continue “adhering to the laws of the land” and remain “warm and welcoming to all,” suggesting users could customize their experience on the platform in the same way they could choose to watch a family-friendly movie or a more “mature” one.
But Musk’s takeover has also sparked concerns that his Twitter might not have the capacity or workforce large enough to police misinformation or hateful rhetoric.
Last week, the Washington Post reported that Musk intended to lay off 75% of Twitter’s current staff, or around 5,600 employees, leaving the company gutted. Musk has since walked back those rumors, telling employees he does not plan to cut 75% of the staff, Bloomberg reported this week citing internal sources. However, Musk has made it clear for months that some layoffs and cutbacks at the company will be inevitable after he takes over.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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