It is still not a done deal — Musk and Twitter have been involved in months of legal wrangling after he tried to back out of the deal this summer. But Musk reversed course this week and told Twitter he would buy the company for his original offer price of $54.20 per share.
Musk, whose bid earlier this year to buy the social media site shocked observers, had said before the deal was announced that he wanted to promote free speech and open up its algorithm to increase transparency.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO still hasn’t specified exactly what changes he might make to the company’s leadership or when the site could look different to users. But he has tweeted about his ideas for new features and for changes on the site he has called the “de facto town square.”
Here are some of the most notable plans Musk has shared.
He said he would reverse the ban on former president Donald Trump
“I think it was a morally bad decision, to be clear, and foolish in the extreme,” he said during a live interview at a Future of the Car event hosted by the Financial Times.
Trump’s account was permanently banned in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Many Republican politicians and right-wing pundits cheered Musk’s plan to buy Twitter, saying he could do away with what they call “censorship” on the site.
Musk earlier denied that he has talked to the former president, tweeting in response to a media report that he has had “no communication, directly or indirectly, with Trump, who has publicly stated that he will be exclusively on Truth Social.”
Trump has said that he won’t rejoin Twitter even if he is allowed, though some of his advisers say he wouldn’t be able to stay away.
Musk says Twitter should be ‘politically neutral’
Musk tweeted in May that “Twitter obv has a strong left wing bias.”
But he has also said that “the right will probably be a little unhappy too.”
“A social media platform’s policies are good if the most extreme 10% on left and right are equally unhappy,” he tweeted the week before Twitter agreed to his purchase offer.
Critics of Musk’s plan to buy Twitter have expressed concern that the billionaire would allow extremist views to remain on the site, including accounts that violate existing rules.
When former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted in April that “bullying is not leadership,” Musk responded that he was “just saying Twitter needs to be politically neutral.”
What are talking about? I’m just saying Twitter needs to be politically neutral.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2022
Musk wants to stick to the law
Musk has said many times that he wants Twitter to do a better job promoting free speech. To him, that seems to mean allowing speech that is legal in the specific geographies where Twitter operates.
“Like I said, my preference is to hew close to the laws of countries in which Twitter operates,” he tweeted in May. “If the citizens want something banned, then pass a law to do so, otherwise it should be allowed.”
Tech executives and Silicon Valley insiders have expressed skepticism about Musk’s plans for a largely unpoliced space rid of censorship, saying it is naive and could make the site unsafe.
Musk appeared in a video with E.U. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton to address the new Digital Services Act, which would require the world’s largest tech companies to more aggressively police their platforms for illegal content.
Musk said the law was aligned with his thinking.
“I agree with everything you said, really,” he told Breton in the video. “I think we’re very much of the same mind.”
Musk wants Twitter to be less ‘niche’
At the Met Gala in New York in May, which Musk attended with his mom, the entrepreneur said the social media site is “sort of niche,” according to Reuters. He wants to get more people on board.
“My goal, assuming everything gets done, would be to make Twitter as inclusive as possible and to have as broad a swath of the country and the rest of the world on Twitter and that they find it interesting and entertaining and funny and that it makes their life better,” he told an interviewer.
That seems to fit with his idea, shared just days after the deal was announced, that Twitter should be enjoyable. “Let’s make Twitter maximum fun!” he posted.
Let’s make Twitter maximum fun!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 28, 2022
Twitter’s workplace could look different
Not everyone is convinced that a Musk-owned Twitter will be fun. Company employees have expressed concerns that Musk would meaningfully change the firm’s culture and could loosen content moderation, meant to promote safety online, that they have worked hard on for years.
Musk also talked with bankers about potential job cuts at the company. He tweeted this spring that if his deal closes, Twitter would “be super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec & server hardware.”
After Musk reversed course on the deal this week and offered to buy the company at the original price, employees expressed shock. One summed up the mood by saying “Congrats or I’m sorry y’all” in an internal Slack message described to The Post.
Concern about workers quitting grew this spring, especially when the company’s top lawyer faced online attacks after Musk tweeted a meme with a photo of her that cast her as an icon of “Twitter’s left wing bias.”
At the Met Gala, Musk said, “It’s a free country,” according to Reuters.
“Certainly if anyone doesn’t feel comfortable with that, they will on their own accord go somewhere else,” he said.
Musk’s other companies are known for workplaces with long hours and high expectations. Musk, who hasn’t said whether he plans to serve as an executive at Twitter, tweeted that “work ethic expectations would be extreme, but much less than I demand of myself.”
Some accounts might need to pay up
Musk has shared a few details of features he might tweak on Twitter, including expressing support for an edit button. He also tweeted that Twitter will stay free for most users but that there might someday be “a slight cost for commercial/government users.”
Twitter is used by many politicians, companies, government agencies and other officials to share updates in real time.
Musk has also said he wants to make the company’s algorithm, or its computer code, public to promote transparency. That’s easier said than done, experts say.
He called for Twitter direct messages, which are private, to be end-to-end encrypted so they are more secure and “so no one can spy on or hack your messages.”