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South African-born Elon Musk buys Twitter for US$44b, fires top executives

South African-born Elon Musk buys Twitter for US$44b, fires top executives
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the Axel   -  
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Hannibal Hanschke/AP -

Elon Musk

Elon Musk became Twitter's owner on Thursday, firing top executives and providing little clarity over how he will achieve his ambitions for the influential social media platform.

"The bird is freed," he tweeted, referencing Twitter's bird logo in an apparent nod to his desire to see the company have fewer limits on content that can be posted.

The CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc has, however, also said he wants to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division.

Other goals include wanting to "defeat" spam bots on Twitter and make the algorithms that determine how content is presented to its users publicly available.

Yet Musk has not offered details on how he will achieve all this and who will run the company.

He has said he plans to cut jobs, leaving Twitter's approximately 7,500 employees fretting about their future.

He also said on Thursday he did not buy Twitter to make more money but "to try to help humanity, whom I love."

Musk terminated Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde, according to people familiar with the matter. He had accused them of misleading him and Twitter investors over the number of fake accounts on the social media platform.

Agrawal and Segal were in Twitter's San Francisco headquarters when the deal closed and was escorted out, the sources added.

Twitter, Musk and the executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Before closing the $44-billion acquisition, and never afraid to indulge in theatrics, Musk walked into Twitter's headquarters on Wednesday with a big grin and carrying a porcelain sink, subsequently tweeting "let that sink in." He changed his description in his Twitter profile to "Chief Twit."

He also tried to calm fears among employees that major layoffs are coming and assured advertisers that his past criticism of Twitter's content moderation rules would not harm its appeal.