Elon Musk Takes Twitter: Will Free Speech Return?

2J36F09 Twitter logo on smartphone and Elon Musk in the background. Elon Musk joins Twitter board

Photo: Alamy

On Monday, Elon Musk, the innovative CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, succeeded in his highly-publicized bid to buy Twitter after weeks of tense speculation.

According to the Associated Press, just hours before the official announcement, Twitter’s board was reportedly negotiating with Musk following the news that he had lined up $46.5 billion in financing to purchase the social media platform.

Of course, Elon’s takeover of Twitter comes on the heels of his decision to decline to take a seat at the table of the Twitter board of directors after acquiring a 9.2 percent stake in the company in early April. Elon’s move, at the time, caused many people to be puzzled over his decision as multiple pundits and analysts correctly postulated that Musk would soon be staging a hostile takeover of Twitter.

And stage it, he did.

Musk’s journey to purchasing Twitter has been met with eager anticipation from proponents of free speech, hoping that the innovative billionaire will return the social media platform to its pre-censorship days. Musk has been a vocal critic of Twitter’s rampant censorship policies, leaving sharp comments and cryptic messages on his own Twitter account, causing his millions of followers to theorize that he might “take over” Twitter himself.

In May 2020, Musk tweeted, “Take the red pill.” In January 2021, Musk further commented that people would be unhappy with “West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech.” He has also slammed Twitter for “reviewing” users’ tweets. On Friday, he sharply remarked that there was a “shadow ban council” reviewing a meme he had posted about Bill Gates.

In light of Elon’s takeover of Twitter, the hope that he will turn the social media behemoth into a bastion for free speech is once again soaring with many Americans. It begs the question: will free speech be making a comeback on Twitter?

After banning many conservatives, including the sitting President of the United States, Donald Trump, in January 2021, Twitter has ruthlessly removed users from their platform who have shared their thoughts on Covid, election fraud, and transgender athletes.

The debate has raged on whether Big Tech has the right to ban its users, with many discussing whether or not Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act can allow companies like Twitter to ban political discourse if the company is presenting itself as a public platform.

However, with Musk at the helm of Twitter, he is poised to take the company private, which will give the billionaire total control over its policies.

A letter from Musk to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor stated, “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.” He added that following his initial investment in the company, he realized that Twitter “needs to be transformed into a private company.”

Elon’s move to rescue Twitter from the iron-fisted grip of Big Tech censorship has been celebrated by many users who have been suspended, banned, or suppressed on the platform. Will deleted users’ accounts be restored? Will they be allowed to make new accounts? How will the company regulate spam and bot accounts?

It’s unclear what changes will be made, but one thing is for certain: Elon Musk will take it to the next level.

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