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Elon Musk’s Twitter deal awakens free speech debate

Elon Musk’s Twitter deal awakens free speech debate
The Twitter application is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022   -  
Copyright © africanews
Gregory Bull / The Associated Press.


The new owner of social media giant Twitter, Elon Musk is hopeful that the platform would give more room for free speech.

Prior to the purchase of the company, Musk had been complaining about Twitter’s moderation of posts that it deems hateful or classified as disinformation.

Eventually, Musk gets to buy the company for $44bn, using one of the biggest leveraged buyout deals in history. This purchase has awakened Musk's disinformation debate.

Following the announcement by the social media giant on Monday, Musk Twitted “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter because that is what free speech means”.

With over 85 million followers on Twitter, Musk began pushing his purchase agenda in January and continued with criticisms of the platform's operations in March.

After rejecting an invitation to join the company’s board, on April 14 the outspoken Tesla CEO said he wanted to own and privatize Twitter because he thinks it’s not living up to its potential as a platform for free speech.

Musk said in a joint statement with Twitter that he wants to make the service “better than ever” with new features while getting rid of automated "spam'' accounts and making its algorithms open to the public to increase trust.

“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,” the 50-year-old Musk said, adding hearts, stars and rocket emojis in a tweet that highlighted the statement.

The more hands-off approach to content moderation that Musk envisions has many users concerned that the platform will become more of a haven for disinformation, hate speech and bullying, something it has worked hard in recent years to mitigate. Wall Street analysts said if he goes too far, it could also alienate advertisers.

The deal was unanimously approved by the company’s board and is expected to be completed later this year. Musk secured $25.5 billion of debt and margin loan financing and will provide about $21 billion in equity to fund the deal, according to the statement.