Twitter‚Äôs board has accepted Elon Musk‚Äôs offer to buy the social media company for around $44 billion. But what‚Äôs he going to do with it?
‚ÄúElon Musk has bought Twitter for approximately $44 billion‚Ä¶ he‚Äôs going to be paying each share of Twitter $54.20‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ¬†MSNBC
When Elon Musk took a nine per cent stake in Twitter and then offered to buy it outright, you might have thought he was only toying with the idea.
After all, he likes to promise the earth.
A hyperloop to speed people between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A million robotaxis on the road by 2020. Brain implants that enable humans to communicate telepathically. And a self-sustaining city on Mars.¬†
Brave new worlds that, for all of Elon Musk‚Äôs genius, are all too often built on little more than a wing and a prayer.
But things move quickly when, like Musk, you have billions of dollars to spare, having made a fortune as a co-founder of PayPal and then even more money from Tesla, the electric vehicle company. Even quicker if you‚Äôre Elon Musk, a man known above all for his unpredictability.
With $21 billion in cash, and $25.5 billion in financing, Elon Musk is buying Twitter.¬†
It‚Äôs thought to be the biggest purchase to take a company private for at least 20 years.
In exchange he gets a social network with far fewer users than Facebook and Instagram, that has only been profitable for two of the past 10 years, and that has become a flashpoint for misinformation and political hostility.
‚ÄúTonight a deafening silence from the president‚Äôs Twitter account in his waning days as commander in chief. Twitter, run by CEO Jack Dorsey, saying after a close review of the president‚Äôs recent tweets [that] it banned him ‚Äėdue to the risk of further incitement of violence.‚ÄĚNBC news
It doesn‚Äôt sound like a golden ticket to money or to popularity.
So what‚Äôs Elon Musk up to?
Elon Musk is a prolific tweeter.¬†
He joined the platform in 2009, three years after it was created, and now enjoys sharing memes and news about Tesla and SpaceX to his 85 million followers, mostly, according to him, from his ‚Äúporcelain throne‚ÄĚ.
He‚Äôs also found romance, reportedly meeting Grimes, his former partner who he has two children with, on Twitter.¬†
But some of Elon Musk‚Äôs tweets have got him into trouble.
‚ÄúTech entrepreneur Elon Musk has denied that he meant to call a British cave diver a paedophile when he dubbed him ‚Äėpedo guy‚Äô on social media.‚ÄĚCNA news
And he is being sued by Tesla‚Äôs investors for tweeting about the company‚Äôs stock which they claim caused ‚Äúbillions of dollars in losses‚ÄĚ.¬†¬†
But Elon Musk‚Äôs desire to buy Twitter is nothing new. In 2017, he replied to a tweet asking how much it would cost. On 16th April of this year, he replied to that same thread with an upside down smiley emoji.¬†
So why‚Äôs he bought it?
‚ÄúMy strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilisation. I don‚Äôt care about the economics at all.‚ÄĚElon Musk, TED talk
Elon Musk has said he wants to quote, ‚Äúunlock‚ÄĚ Twitter‚Äôs ‚Äúextraordinary potential‚ÄĚ as a more open ‚Äúarena for free speech‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúIn a statement released by the company, Mr Musk said 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‚Ä¶‚ÄĚMSNBC
The tech tycoon has described himself as a ‚Äúfree speech absolutist‚ÄĚ but the problem with allowing unfettered freedom of speech on Twitter is that some views will get amplified more than others.¬†
The mechanism for deciding what is and isn‚Äôt acceptable on the platform is called moderation and Elon Musk says he wants to scale that back.
Buying Twitter may help his other businesses too. Here‚Äôs Ros Gerber, a friend of Elon Musk and investor in Twitter speaking to BBC Radio 4‚Äôs Today programme‚Ä¶¬†
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a very important mouthpiece actually for Tesla and the message that his largest asset uses for advertising so the integrity of Twitter does have a strategic importance within Elon Musk‚Äôs empire.‚ÄĚRos Gerber, BBC Radio 4‚Äôs Today programme
Elon Musk may have his work cut out. He‚Äôs chosen to buy Twitter at a time when the social media industry is coming under more stringent regulation.
Last week the EU announced the Digital Services Act, meaning companies like Twitter, Meta and Google will be required to do more to tackle illegal content or they could face billions in fines.
‚ÄúThe DSA will bring more transparency and control for users, as well as clearer responsibilities and accountability for very large online platforms‚Ä¶‚ÄĚEuropean Commission spokesperson
And the UK‚Äôs online safety bill will come into force around the end of this year too.¬†
Elon Musk has pledged to ‚Äúdefeat the spam bots or die trying‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúauthenticate real humans‚ÄĚ, something that would make Twitter a safer space but making that possible with the technology available will be difficult.¬†
And his plan to reduce content moderation would only lead to more spam, pornography, misinformation, violent incitement and hate speech.¬†¬†
It could also lead to former president Donald Trump returning to the platform. He was permanently banned after the Capitol riot in January 2021.
‚ÄúMr Trump lost his primary megaphone overnight when Twitter permanently shut down his personal account, breaking off connection to his 90 million followers. They also suspended one used by his campaign.‚ÄĚCNBC
But earlier this month, Elon Musk said he was ‚Äúvery cautious‚ÄĚ about permanently banning users.
And although he‚Äôs not directly commented on Donald Trump, he did tweet this at the time: ‚ÄúA lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech.‚ÄĚ
So the takeover has left many liberals feeling nervous.
Twitter will now become a private company. Corporate conservatism has lost out to individually based libertarianism. What‚Äôs clear is that Elon Musk will be able to continue to freely influence millions of people, all from his porcelain throne called Twitter.
Today‚Äôs story was written by Imy Harper and Xavier Greenwood with additional reporting by Sebastian Hervas‚ÄďJones.
Invaded: Voicemails from Ukraine
A collection of daily messages from inside Ukraine as the Russian invasion unfolds.