Opinion: Elon Musk’s Twitter will be a wild ride

By The New York Times | Kevin Rose

Get ready.

Elon Musk, who has been trying for months to back out of a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, now appears poised to buy the company again. In a surprise letter to Twitter on Monday night, October 3, Musk offered to take Twitter private at the originally proposed price ($54.20 per share), marking the possible end of one of the most dramatic legal disputes in history. the history of Silicon Valley.

It should be noted that the deal could still fall apart — Musk is famous for his last-minute mood swings — but the world’s richest man will now most likely become the new owner of Twitter, possibly as soon as this week.

There is a lot of uncertainty about what Musk will do with Twitter if he acquires it. The fickle billionaire has made only very vague public statements about his plans for the company and his products.

But now we know, thanks in part to a series of text messages published as part of the protracted legal battle, that it won’t be the Twitter we all know it to be at all. I feel confident to give you at least six predictions below, should the deal ever close.

Musk is going to clean house, starting by firing Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.

A juicy set of text messages between Musk and his friends and business associates were made public last week as part of the legal battle. In them, Musk made it clear that he was unhappy with Twitter’s current leadership, particularly Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief executive, who replaced Jack Dorsey last year.

The texts revealed that Agrawal initially sought to work constructively with Musk, and the two even went so far as to have a friendly dinner near San Jose, California, in March. But in the end, the men ended up having multiple disagreements. At one point, Agrawal told Musk via text message that his habit of tweeting things like “Is Twitter dying?” it wasn’t “helping me improve Twitter.” Musk has also expressed discontent with other Twitter executives, and it’s hard to see how he could fire Agrawal without also removing most or all of the company’s top leaders to install his own group of loyal employees.

Employees will protest.

Another easy prediction to make about the Musk acquisition is that it will generate a huge backlash among Twitter’s rank-and-file employees.

Twitter, more than other social media platforms, has a workforce with progressive views and many employees who are deeply committed to the company’s mission of promoting “healthy conversation.” Those employees might believe — with good reason — that under Musk’s leadership, Twitter would abandon many of the projects they care about in areas like security and trust. Or they may just not want to deal with the drama and turmoil of a Musk regime and start looking elsewhere for jobs.

Some employees have already quit, anticipating a Musk takeover. It’s safe to bet that many more will follow if the deal goes through.
Donald Trump will return to Twitter, along with a swarm of other right-wing cultural warriors.

Musk, who has framed his bid for Twitter as an attempt to preserve free speech on the platform, has long said that, if successful, it would allow former President Donald Trump to get back his Twitter account, which was suspended from permanently last year after the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.

I predict that will happen almost immediately. (And yes, Trump will return to Twitter if he’s invited, no matter how much fun he’s having on Truth Social.)

However, Musk’s “platform rethink” will extend far beyond the former president. A host of right-wing cultural warriors could return to the service with Musk’s blessing, including those who were kicked out for expressing hate speech, spreading false conspiracy theories and harassing other users. (In his text message, Musk told Agrawal that he wanted to reverse all permanent Twitter bans “except spam accounts and those that explicitly advocate violence.”)

Musk, who sells himself as a centrist but has too often launched crusades against “leftists who are alert to injustices in society, especially racism,” has made no secret of his plans to make Twitter just another platform. friendly to right-wing voices. Musk has expressed his support for the Babylon Bee, a conservative satire site whose Twitter account was suspended after posting a transphobic piece of humor about a Biden administration official. Additionally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal Twitter account was suspended earlier this year for repeatedly sharing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, has asked Musk to reinstate her on the platform along with other right-wing commentators, including Alex Jones, the founder of Infowars.
It probably won’t influence the midterm elections, but 2024 could be Elon’s election.

Musk’s takeover could happen before next month’s midterm elections. If so, there could still be time for him to make decisions — like allowing Trump back on the platform or loosening restrictions on political ads — that could change the conversation around some races.

But Musk — who, let’s not forget, also runs other companies — will be very busy between now and November. I don’t think that, with the election just a month away, there is a direct relationship between Musk’s inauguration and, say, a Republican sweep of the tight House and Senate races.

However, the 2024 elections will be a different case. By then, if the deal does go through, Musk will have been better able to mold Twitter in his own image. The platform could look radically different by then — more right-wing trolls, fewer protections against extremism and disinformation — or be largely the same. But Musk will be firmly in charge, and if Twitter still plays a similar role in American political and media culture as it does today, the billionaire will emerge as a central and polarizing figure in the 2024 election cycle.
Twitter will remove unpopular features, crack down on bots, and introduce new subscription products.
Based on his statements and the sales pitches Musk gave to investors this summer as he tried to strike a deal, I believe he will make several changes to Twitter’s products early on. First, he will take steps to shut down many of Twitter’s non-core features, including some that were present in Twitter Blue, but also any that don’t bring much revenue to the company. It will attempt to remove spam bots from the site, a problem it has long noted as one of the worst aspects of Twitter (and which formed the basis of its spurious attempt to opt out of the Twitter deal, before it decided to buy it back).

Musk will also try to steer Twitter away from ad revenue toward other monetary opportunities, such as special payment features, data licensing deals, and a mysterious new subscription product, which he has just called “X,” and which, according to ensures, will have 104 million users by 2028.

Musk will continue to be the center of attention.

Perhaps the easiest prediction about Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is that it will make him an even bigger celebrity.

Of course, Musk is already one of the most well-known people in the world. But until now, his power has largely been a function of his extreme wealth and the number of followers he has online. He could engage in slur wars, make offensive jokes about senators, or threaten to drive their companies out of California, and all of this mattered a great deal to the people involved, but ultimately it was all soft power that depended on Twitter’s willingness to let him. continue to drop bombs on their 108 million followers, and the public’s willingness to continue paying attention.

Owning Twitter is different. If the deal goes through, Musk will have direct control over one of the world’s largest megaphones, and can use it as he sees fit, whether it’s turning it into a lawless pitched battle to get revenge on his political enemies, promote his own businesses, or make money. something completely different. Given Musk’s penchant for being the center of attention, chances are whatever he chooses to do with Twitter won’t be boring.

There was no longer any escape from Musk. Now, looking away will be truly impossible.

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Opinion: Elon Musk’s Twitter will be a wild ride