Sunday, December 10, 2023

Elon Musk finally in charge of Twitter, reports say


Elon Musk is finally in charge of Twitter, reports suggest tonight. And he’s already fired several top executives.

The controversial $44 billion deal, which in recent months seemed as if it could fall through, closed on Thursday night just ahead of a court-imposed deadline, CNBC’s David Faber said in a tweet.

“Elon Musk is now in charge at Twitter,” Faber wrote, adding that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal and chief financial officer Ned Segal had “left the company’s HQ” in San Francisco and “will not be returning.”

Elon Musk is now in charge at Twitter. I'm told former CEO @paraga and CFO @nedsegal have left the company's HQ and will not be returning as the Musk era begins.

— David Faber (@davidfaber) October 28, 2022

Hours after Musk showed up at Twitter’s headquarters carrying a sink in a bizarre stunt that he tweeted with the quip, “Entering Twitter HQ — let that sink in,” the billionaire entrepreneur posted a message to advertisers explaining why he wanted to buy the company.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” he said. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right-wing and far left-wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.

“In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fueled and catered to those polarized extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost,”

He continued: “That is why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility.”

Friday’s development brings to a close a six-month squabble between Musk and the social media company.

Twitter accepted Musk’s offer to acquire the company in April, but a short while later, Musk appeared to get cold feet, claiming Twitter had failed to accurately reveal the number of fake, bot, and spam accounts on the platform.

Musk tried to pull out of the deal, prompting Twitter to take legal action in a bid to force it through.

Now, staff at Twitter will be waiting to learn about any possible job losses that could hit the company. Recent reports suggested Musk intended to lay off around 75% of its employees, reducing the headcount from 7,500 to just 2,000, though on Thursday, the new owner reportedly said that such a large reduction was not part of his plan.

But it’s not just staff who are keen to find out about incoming changes. Twitter’s community of more than 235 million daily active users will also be keen to see how the platform changes. For example, earlier comments by Musk suggest he may reduce content moderation, which many fear will lead to more harassment and other kinds of toxic speech on the platform. The new owner could also reinstate the accounts of a number of banned users, among them former U.S. president Donald Trump.

However, in his message to advertisers on Thursday, he acknowledged that Twitter “cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences,” suggesting moderation may not be relaxed after all.

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