Elon Musk pledges to 'authenticate all humans' as he buys Twitter for $44 billion. Here's how the site may change now that he's in charge.

Advertisement
Elon Musk pledges to 'authenticate all humans' as he buys Twitter for $44 billion. Here's how the site may change now that he's in charge.
Joe Skipper/Reuters
  • Billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk is buying Twitter for $44 billion.
  • Musk plans to make "significant improvements to Twitter" if the deal is approved by regulators.
Advertisement

The world's richest man is buying Twitter.

On Monday afternoon, billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk added another title to his resume: Twitter owner.

Musk will pay $54.20 per share for Twitter, matching his original offer, totaling $44 billion. When the deal closes, Twitter will become a privately held company once again.

So, what exactly does Musk intend to do at Twitter?

We have a pretty good idea of his top priorities based on his statement in Monday's press release announcing the acquisition:

Advertisement

"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," he said. "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."

Musk, a longtime Twitter user with over 80 million followers, has been detailing his feelings about the service for years now. Here's what we expect to see in changes at Twitter should the deal be approved by regulators, based on his past tweets.

1. Loosening content moderation

Musk has repeatedly referred to Twitter as "the de factor public town square" of the modern era — the digital equivalent of a public forum.

To that end, he's been critical of Twitter's decision to permanently ban former President Donald Trump from the site, following the insurrection at the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

"A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech," Musk tweeted in response to the Christian conservative satire publication The Babylon Bee, after it shared a satirical news article on January 11, 2021 titled, "Evil Fascist Dictator Censored and Voted Out of Office."

Advertisement

He could even re-instate Trump's Twitter account, though it's unclear if the former president would use the account again.

Based on Musk's tweets, it sounds like he'll push for looser moderation on Twitter at the very least.

He demonstrated the sentiment at least once in recent weeks: At his satellite internet startup, Starlink, he refused requests "by some governments (not Ukraine)" to block news broadcasts from Russia.

"We will not do so unless at gunpoint," he said. "Sorry to be a free speech absolutist."

2. Algorithm changes

Another point Musk has raised in the past involves Twitter's role in shaping society.

Advertisement

He polled his followers last month on whether they think Twitter's algorithm should be "open source" — a term for software that's distributed freely and able to be manipulated openly by many different contributors.

It may sound technical, but the idea is tied to his feelings on free speech.

"I'm worried about de facto bias in 'the Twitter algorithm' having a major effect on public discourse," Musk said to one follower. "How do we know what's really happening?"

Elon Musk pledges to 'authenticate all humans' as he buys Twitter for $44 billion. Here's how the site may change now that he's in charge.
Elon MuskPatrick Pleul/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

3. Removing spam bots

Some of Musk's anticipated proposals speak more to his personal use of Twitter than anything else. For example, he's previously stated he wants to get rid of "crypto spam bots" — spam accounts promoting what appear to be crypto-based scams, which often use Musk's Twitter likeness.

Musk has called the spam problem on Twitter the "single most annoying problem" with using the service. He's even publicly pleaded with Twitter to do something about the issue. "How long must this go on?" he asked in February.

Advertisement

In an April 14 interview at TED 2022, Musk cited this issue as the first thing he would change as Twitter's new owner. "A top priority I would have is eliminating the spam and scam bots, and the bot armies that are on Twitter," he said. "They make the product much worse."

4. Adding an edit button

Musk is in favor of the edit button that Twitter users have been requesting for years.

He's supported the long-running hope that Twitter will some day add an edit function to its service so that users are able to fix, at very least, basic spelling errors or mistaken links immediately after posting. His 80 million-plus followers overwhelmingly supported adding the function in a poll he ran last month.

Notably, Twitter said recently that it's been working on the functionality for some time.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Advertisement
{{}}