With the ‘free speech warrior' Elon Musk announcing to take over the much controversial social media platform, Twitter for $44 billion, the transaction will shift control of the social media platform populated by millions of users and global leaders to the world's richest person.
The Twitter takeover news came as a surprise to many as discussions over the deal, which last week appeared uncertain, accelerated over the weekend after Musk pushed Twitter shareholders with financing details of his offer.
Under pressure, Twitter started negotiating with Musk to buy the company at the proposed $54.20 per share price. The deal ends Twitter's run as a public company since its 2013 initial public offering.
“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. Twitter's shares were up about 6% following the news.
Earlier Musk took a major stake in the firm and lined up last week some $46.5 billion in financing to push forward with the purchase. Twitter board chair Bret Taylor said the body “conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” the Twitter statement said.
The polarizing Tesla chief's campaign to buy the social media giant sparked concern that his unpredictable statements and alleged bullying are contradictory to his stated aims for the platform.
Musk, 50, last year became the world's richest person — taking the title from Amazon's Jeff Bezos — following the meteoric rise of Tesla, his electric automaker founded in 2003.
He is libertarian, anti-woke, impulsive and promotes himself as a champion of free speech. Some would call him right-wing, while his critics accuse him of being autocratic and bullying.
All this has come in a month in which Musk also made headlines with Tesla opening a ‘gigafactory' in Texas, after the company left California following a dispute over his efforts to defy a state shutdown of his plant to stop the spread of Covid-19. Forbes estimates his current net worth at $266 billion.
Meanwhile, reacting over Musk taking over Twitter, co-founder of Indian microblogging social media platform KOO, Aprameya Radhakrishna in post on the platform said, “Shouldn't global big tech like Facebook and Google be making counter offers to buy Twitter? It'll save them the scampering around when the rules of social media will be rewritten.”
These comments also come at a time when the world is unveiling a new regulatory regime for social media platforms to operate in respective boundaries.
Recently the European Union has pushed through new regulations for the US Big Tech companies including Twitter. The European Union's internal market chief said on Tuesday that Elon Musk could adapt Twitter as he wishes after he acquires the social media site but warned the billionaire that the bloc has strict rules for online platforms to tackle illegal content.
EU has rules under which content forbidden offline is also forbidden online
“It will be up to Twitter to adapt themselves … to our rules,” Thierry Breton said while reacting over the deal sealed by Tesla's chief executive to buy Twitter for $44 billion.
“I think Elon Musk knows Europe very well. He knows very well that we have some rules for the automotive industry … and he understands that. So in Europe, in order to protect freedom of speech and to protect individuals, any companies will have to fulfill this obligation.”
The EU has rules under which content forbidden offline is also forbidden online, Breton said.
Under a Digital Services Act (DSA) agreed by the EU's 27 member states and lawmakers last week, Alphabet unit Google, Meta and other large online platforms will risk hefty fines if they do not control illegal content.
Breton said big platforms of more than 45 million users would have to have more moderators than smaller ones, including moderators in every European language, and they would have to open their algorithms to regulators.