Just hours after Twitter formally announced Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media giant, the internet has been flooded with memes cheers and dire warnings to the takeover.
Twitter has agreed to sell itself to Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a $44 billion purchase that may expand the billionaire's corporate empire and put the world's richest man in charge of one of the world's most powerful social networks.
Musk, who has defined himself as a "free speech absolutist," agreed to an acquisition on Monday that will give him control of the social network, which has more than 200 million users.
In little than a month, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO became one of Twitter's largest shareholders, was offered and declined a seat on its board, and made a bid to buy the firm.
"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," Musk said in a statement Monday. "Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."
On Monday, critics and supporters discussed what may happen next.
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn expressed delight at the news.
"Today is an encouraging day for freedom of speech. I am hopeful that Elon Musk will help rein in Big Tech’s history of censoring users that have a different viewpoint," she tweeted.
Some conservative critics hailed the agreement as a "victory for free expression." #BringBackTrump became a prominent topic on Twitter, sparking discussion about whether the former president will be let back on after being banned following the January 6 Capitol incident (Trump told Fox News he had no plans to return).
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a vocal opponent of big tech, has warned that the agreement is "destructive for democracy."
The biggest change will most likely be efforts to limit free speech on Twitter, which might reintroduce controversial voices like former US President Donald Trump to the network.
On multiple occasions, Mr. Musk has openly chastised the platform's speech moderation.
Changes in Twitter's moderation practices have been met with concern by free speech and civil rights advocates.
The NAACP calls on Musk to prevent the platform from becoming “a petri dish for hate speech, or falsehoods that subvert our democracy”.
What happens now that Elon Musk's offer has been accepted?
Twitter users can expect "a shake-up," according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
Even Mr. Ives agrees that there are currently more questions than answers.
"I believe that, in the end, trying to reform Twitter will be a 12- to 18-month project," he stated.
Bret Taylor, the head of Twitter's board of directors, says the company will continue to operate as usual until the purchase is completed.
"I think we feel very comfortable that [the deal] gives this team the ability to continue to make the company successful in between signing and closing the transaction," Mr Taylor says.
What will Twitter's user experience be like?
Because the deal hasn't concluded yet, not much will change straight away.
However, in a series of tweets over the last two weeks, Mr Musk has stated what he would like to change, including:
- overcoming spambots
- human verification
- new features
- the algorithms become open source
- putting in place free expression on the platform.
On April 4, he also polled his Twitter followers to see if they wanted an edit button.
Is there anything that could stop this agreement from happening?
Shareholders have yet to vote, but the transaction is likely to finalize this year. The company's annual meeting on May 25 might include a shareholder vote.
Regulators will also have to examine the acquisition, although according to Wedbush analyst Mr. Ives, no major roadblocks are envisaged.
Mr. Musk is off to a good start, since Twitter's board of directors has unanimously accepted his bid and is suggesting that shareholders do the same.