Elon Musk’s tumultuous negotiations to buy and then overhaul Twitter have been a made-for-TV drama since it all began in April.
Just weeks after Musk put in his offer — when tech stock prices, including Twitter’s, began rapidly falling — he tried to get out of the deal. Twitter sued. Then, in October, Musk changed his mind again, saying he actually wanted to buy the company after all, just in time to delay trial proceedings with the social media company.
On October 27, just a day before the court-issued deadline, Musk closed the deal to purchase Twitter.
Musk is the world’s richest man; he’s already busy enough building rockets, electric cars, and underground tunnels. Now, he’s tasked with fixing Twitter’s many complicated issues around political speech, content moderation, and spam. Not to mention, he’ll have to find a way to make Twitter — which has struggled to be consistently profitable — actually earn more money. So far, he has cut staff by 50 percent and started charging users $8 month for a blue check mark — which caused some epic trolling and chaos. Musk’s controversial tweeting and plans to reduce content moderation on Twitter have scared away some major advertisers, putting further financial pressure on the company. If Twitter doesn’t become profitable, he told Twitter’s staff that bankruptcy isn’t “out of the question.”
Making things more complicated, the Biden administration is reportedly considering a national security review of the deal because of Musk’s recent tweets in favor of the Russian government and his reliance on foreign investors to fund his offer.
Musk’s takeover of Twitter is another reminder of the immense power of billionaires like Musk, and how some of them seem to have an interest in controlling powerful platforms of speech — for the right price.
—Shirin Ghaffary, senior correspondent, Recode
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