Twitter has agreed to sell the company for $44 billion in cash to billionaire Elon Musk, who plans to take it private, a deal with major implications for online discourse.
The social media giant's decision to sell will give major influence over public debate to Musk, who has vowed to overhaul the platform to orient it toward free speech.
"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," said Musk in a statement on Monday. "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."
Musk's takeover could also nudge other social media giants to censor less content in order to remain relevant, conservatives hope.
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The deal came to fruition after Twitter’s board had long negotiations with Musk over the weekend regarding his unsolicited bid to buy the company two weeks ago and after he began lining up $46.5 billion in financing for the offer last week.
Musk announced a financing plan to back up his acquisition four days ago, which forced Twitter's board to reconsider the deal more seriously after initially resisting it.
"The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing," said Bret Taylor, Twitter's Board Chairman. "The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders."
The deal appears to represent an acknowledgment by Twitter that its new chief executive, Parag Agrawal, who took control of the company in November, is not making the company sufficiently profitable, although the company is on track to meet its aggressive financial goals set for 2023.
Twitter's board voted earlier this month to adopt a "poison pill" investor strategy in an attempt to stop Musk from taking over the company.
Now Musk will have tremendous sway over speech standards on one of the world's most influential platforms. He has expressed interest in the plight of users banned from Twitter, most notably the conservative satire site the Babylon Bee, whose CEO, Seth Dillon, said Musk asked him about the publication's suspension before bidding for Twitter.
Conservatives have said Twitter is biased based on its suppression of news regarding Hunter Biden's laptop before the 2020 election and for deplatforming conservatives, most notably former President Donald Trump.
Trump vowed not to return to Twitter, even if Musk invites him back to the platform, and instead said his own social media app, Truth Social, will be the sole platform for his voice.
The Biden administration, which has long been concerned about dangerous misinformation and surveillance on social media platforms, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, did not weigh in on how it would respond to Musk's takeover of Twitter.
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“No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power large social media platforms have over our everyday lives,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing Monday.