Musk isn't looking for a 'free-for-all hellscape' for Twitter

Musk isn’t looking for a ‘free-for-all hellscape’ for Twitter

Elon Musk tried to appease wary Twitter advertisers on Thursday, a day before the closing deadline for his $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform, saying he was buying the platform to help humanity and did not want it to become “free”. – landscape of hell for all.

The post appears to be aimed at addressing concerns from advertisers – Twitter’s main source of income – that Musk’s plans to promote free speech by reducing content moderation will open the floodgates to more online toxicity and ward off users.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is that it is important for the future of civilization to have a common digital public square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy way, without resorting to violence. “, wrote Musk in an unusually long message for the Tesla CEO, who typically projects his thoughts in one-line tweets.

He continued, “There is a great danger right now that social media will split into far-right and far-left echo chambers that are generating more hate and dividing our society.”

Musk has previously expressed his disgust with advertising and Twitter’s reliance on it, suggesting a greater focus on other business models such as paid subscriptions that won’t allow big companies to dictate policy on how it works. social media. But on Thursday, he assured advertisers that he wanted Twitter to be “the most respected advertising platform in the world.”

The memo is a shift from Musk’s position that Twitter unfairly infringes the right to free speech by blocking misinformation or graphic content, said Pinar Yildirim, associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University. University of Pennsylvania.

But it’s also a realization that the lack of content moderation is bad for business, putting Twitter at risk of losing advertisers and followers, she said.

“You don’t want a place where consumers are just bombarded with things they don’t want to hear about, and the platform takes no responsibility,” Yildirim said.

Musk said Twitter should be “warm and welcoming to everyone” and allow users to choose the experience they want to have.

“I didn’t do it to make money,” he said of the pending acquisition. “I did this to try to help humanity, which I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuit of that goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility.

Friday’s deadline to complete the deal was ordered by the Delaware Chancery court beginning of October. It’s the latest leg of a battle that began in April with Musk signing a deal to acquire Twitter and then trying to walk away from it. leading Twitter to sue the Tesla CEO to force him to complete the acquisition. If both sides miss Friday’s deadline, the next step could be a trial in November that could lead to a judge forcing Musk into the deal.

But Musk signaled that the deal is in the works. He walked around the company’s San Francisco headquarters on Wednesday with a porcelain sink, changed his Twitter profile to “Chief Twit” and tweeted “Enter the Twitter headquarters – let him in!”

And overnight, the New York Stock Exchange notified investors that it would suspend trading in Twitter shares before the opening bell on Friday in anticipation of the company going private under Musk.

Musk is expected to speak directly to Twitter employees on Friday if the deal is finalized, according to an internal memo quoted in multiple outlets. Despite internal confusion and low morale over fears of layoffs or a dismantling of the company’s culture and operations, Twitter executives this week at least welcomed Musk’s arrival and messages.

Sales manager Sarah Personette, the company’s chief customer officer, said she had a “great chat” with Musk on Wednesday and appeared to approve of his Thursday message to advertisers.

“Our ongoing commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged,” Personette tweeted Thursday. “Looking forward to the future!”

Musk’s apparent enthusiasm to visit Twitter’s headquarters this week stands in stark contrast to one of his previous suggestions: the building should be turned into a homeless shelter because so few employees worked there.

The Washington Post reported last week that Musk has told potential investors he plans to cut three-quarters of Twitter’s 7,500 employees when he takes ownership of the company. The newspaper cited documents and unnamed sources close to the deliberation.

Musk has spent months deriding Twitter’s “spam bots” and making sometimes contradictory statements about Twitter’s problems and how to fix them. But he shared few concrete details about his plans for the social media platform.

Thursday’s memo to advertisers shows a new focus on ad revenue, in particular the need for Twitter to deliver more “relevant ads” – which generally means targeted ads that rely on collecting and analyzing people’s personal information. users.

Yildirim said that unlike Facebook, Twitter hasn’t been good at targeting advertising to what users want to see. Musk’s post suggests he wants to address this issue, she said.

Insider Intelligence senior analyst Jasmine Enberg said Musk had good reason to avoid a massive overhaul of Twitter’s advertising business, as Twitter’s revenue has been hit hard by the weakening of the economy, months of uncertainty surrounding Musk’s proposed takeover, changing consumer behaviors and the fact that “there is no other source of revenue waiting in the wings.

“Even a slight relaxation of content moderation on the platform is sure to scare off advertisers, many of whom already find Twitter’s brand safety tools lacking compared to other social platforms,” ​​he said. Enberg said.

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