Elon Musk acquired Twitter Monday for $44 billion sparking concerns for freedom of speech and the future of Tesla.
Confirming in a press statement, Twitter announced that a definitive agreement was completed, confirming Tesla owner, Elon Musk would own the whole of Twitter for $54.20 per share. The acquisition means that Twitter would become a privately held company on the completion of the deal, requiring regulatory approval. Musk, who is a regular user of the site expressed his opinion on the deal stating that he would promote “free speech” for even some of his “worst critics.”
As the world’s wealthiest person, the aim to transform Twitter into a private company is to promote free speech and ensure trust in users, who will serve the “societal imperative.” The questions of what amounts to free speech were debated in a recent TED interview, where Musk announced that he would be reluctant to delete tweets or enact permanent bans, which Twitter has notably done in the past for former president, Donald Trump.
Chair of Digital Rights Watch, Lizzie O’Shea expressed risks with this direction stating that free speech is important but “asymmetries of power” are a barrier to free speech, favoring the rich and powerful; known as a form of “free speech absolutism.”
At the start of the month Musk had only a 9% stake in the company, but after no other bidders emerged after Twitter enacted the anti-takeover “poison pills,” negotiations reopened. Financial concerns have also been raised as Tesla’s shares dropped by 12.1% following the completion of the deal ($21 billion in total), questioned to having part-funded the Twitter deal.
Nevertheless, in a Twitter statement, Musk supported his direction for Twitter, saying
“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…”