Well, it is now official. Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, and a man who recently compared Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Hitler — has bought Twitter. The company made an announcement today, confirming the sale.
Twitter, Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion. Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.
Under the terms of the agreement, Twitter stockholders will receive $54.20 in cash for each share of Twitter common stock that they own upon closing of the proposed transaction. The purchase price represents a 38% premium to Twitter’s closing stock price on April 1, 2022, which was the last trading day before Mr. Musk disclosed his approximately 9% stake in Twitter.
What the future holds for the social media giant is anyone’s guess, but what is known is that it is doubtful that the platform will be the same after this deal goes through. This is confirmed by Musk’s own words.
“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.
However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter need to be transformed as a private company.”
Some experts say if Elon Musk relaxes content rules, Twitter could be overrun by misinformation and toxic posts.
“A platform that moderated only illegal speech would quickly be overcome by spam and garbage,” said Jameel Jaffer with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “That kind of platform wouldn’t work for anyone, whatever their political views.”
Other experts, including Paul Barrett with NYU’s Stern School for Business and Human Rights, are echoing those comments.
“Without vigorous content moderation, the platform Musk seeks to own would be swamped by spam, porn, anti-vaccination misinformation, QAnon conspiracies, and fraudulent campaigns to undermine the midterms and 2024 presidential election,” Barrett said.
Of course, social media users, especially on Twitter, were quick to fire up the alarm bells.
"You can find me on Instagram if Elon Musk buys Twitter" is the new "I'm moving to Canada if Donald Trump becomes President."
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) April 25, 2022
Suspended accounts coming back after Twitter takeover by Elon Musk😂🏃♂️ pic.twitter.com/QWpYnnPy8F
— SEGUN🌴 (@AdeyeyeJohn4) April 25, 2022
Freethinkers flocking to Twitter now that Elon Musk owns it pic.twitter.com/ThsH9asg0F
— Sir remmy (@IamSirRemmy) April 25, 2022
Of course, not everyone was so upset with the news. Some had different takes on the purchase.
“Elon Musk should not be the custodian of free speech because he may allow speech I don’t personally like”
God, this is brilliant. pic.twitter.com/vqCQusfBcN
— Will 🇺🇦 Слава Україні (@WMcHBg) April 25, 2022
If you think Elon Musk buying Twitter is scary wait til you hear about Bill Gates buying up all of our farmland.
— Robert (Durden) (@realrobdurden) April 25, 2022
Not saying I'm happy about Elon, but people are acting like this is their first day in the oligarchy. I'm like, excuse me, sir but have ever shopped at Amazon, or used Google?
— Eric Kleppel #NoWarWithRussia (@eric_kleppel) April 25, 2022
Musk himself sees the move as a “victory for free speech” as referenced in his own tweet.
I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022
Whatever happens, the world will be watching Elon Musk even more intently than before. What lessons this buyout ultimately teaches will be revealed in time.