From self-driving electric cars to the colonisation of Mars, there’s very little that Elon Musk hasn’t tried to do. And this week the entrepreneur swapped space for social media when he bought Twitter for $44bn. Initially the site, who received Musk’s bid a fortnight ago, rejected his offer but have now asked shareholders to vote to approve the deal.
‘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 tweeted of the deal announcement. ‘I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans…Twitter has tremendous potential - I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.’
With concerns about balancing freedom of speech and safeguarding against hate already rife on the app, MP Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the deal was an ‘extraordinary development in the world of social media’ and that ‘it will be interesting to see how a privately owned Twitter (run by a man who is an absolutist over free speech) will react to global moves to regulate.’
Following the news of Musk’s takeover, Jameela Jamil quickly quit the platform after one final message accompanied by some pictures of her dog: ‘Ah he got twitter. I would like this to be my what lies here as my last tweet,’ she wrote. ‘Just really any excuse to show pics of Barold. I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny. Best of luck.’
While worries about extreme views running rife and Trump returning to the platform are justified, deleting the app at this stage may be a little premature. Aside from Musk’s plans to stop spam bots, include human authentication and an edit button (goodbye accidental typos) we’re still pretty in the dark with exactly what Musk plans to do with the app. So, it’s probably worth sticking around on the ‘hell platform’ to find out.
But as has always been the way on Twitter, amidst the debate, insults and insanity over the takeover were some really great jokes: ‘Does Elon Musk know that he’s wasted $45 billion on an app that just consists of us saying Sparks by Hilary Duff is underrated over and over again until we all die?’ asked Jack Remmington.
‘If Elon Musk buys Twitter, I’m never signing in again until five minutes later when I’m bored and open the app without thinking,’ admitted comedian Mike Drucker. Meanwhile writer Anna Mazzola added: ‘If all these people really do leave Twitter, imagine how many novels will finally be finished. Truly terrifying.’