In a surprising turn, Elon Musk looks to become the sole proprietor of Twitter after the board met on the weekend to vote on accepting his $44 billion takeover offer.
Why is this surprising though? $44 billion is quite a lot of money to turn down. But when the offer was initially made, it seemed that Twitter would rebuke the bid, even initiating a ‘poison pill’ mitigation process to stop Musk from acquiring the company through a share buy-up.
But according to reports, the board ultimately felt that they had little choice but to accept the billionaire’s offer.
1. What does this mean?
While no one knows for sure, we do have to pretty clear indicators about Musk’s intentions, ranging form restoring ‘free speech’ to combating bots.
2. Restoring Free Speech
Free speech has become the main focus of the Musk-Twitter push, with Musk publicly decrying Twitter’s past actions in silencing certain users:
Musk has also criticized Twitter’s decision to ban former US President Donald Trump, while he’s also had his own share of issues related to his tweeted remarks and statements.
Musk’s main contention here is that by taking Twitter into private ownership, that will enable it to be more free in what it allows, as it won’t be beholden to shareholders or advertisers in this respect.
This is an odd decision as ads are Twitter’s key money makers.
Under private ownership, Twitter won’t be under the same stress to make money as it is as a publicly traded company with shareholder expectations. But Musk is still paying $44 billion, so you would assume he would like to recoup at least some of that expense.
3. Open Sourcing the Algorithm
Another element of Musk’s Twitter takeover push has been algorithmic transparency, and giving users the opportunity to understand, and even control, how the system decides what’s most relevant to them.
As per Musk:
“Any changes to people’s tweets – if they’re emphasized or de-emphasized – that action should be made apparent, so anyone can see that that action has been taken so there’s no sort of behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.”
A key risk on this front is that by opening up its algorithmic parameters, Twitter would enable users to identify key aspects that they may want to emphasize or not within their experience. This could warp the social media platform into becoming an echo chamber for users.
4. Eliminating Bots
Twitter’s been working to address its bot problems for years, though Musk believes that they could be doing more.
The question in the past has been whether Twitter actually wants to tackle bots, or whether it’s more beneficial for the platform to continue continuing them as ‘active users’. With market pressure on Twitter to boost usage numbers, turning a blind eye to these bots could help boost those figures.
Going private would eliminate the need to show an increase in active users, which could result in a more aggressive push to remove bots from the platform.