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Social Media Update: What Can we Expect in Twitter’s Deal with Elon Musk?

Last, and certainly not least to discuss in our May newsletter issue, is Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Twitter officially accepted the Tesla and literal out-of-this-world SpaceX creator and the richest man in the world’s $44 billion offer to buy the social media company last week. But what are the details, what is his motivation, and what does that mean for Twitter and its users? Let’s break down some details with some help from Lauren Hirsch and Melina Delkic of the New York Times:

  • “If the $44 billion deal between Elon Musk and Twitter falls apart, either side may have to pay the other $1 billion.”

  • “Twitter would have to pay Mr. Musk in certain circumstances if the deal goes awry. That would include if the social media company signed a deal with another suitor whose offer it deemed superior. Mr. Musk, for his part, would have to pay if his financing for the deal falls apart.”

  • “Mr. Musk is paying with $13 billion in bank loans, plus another $12.5 billion in loans against his stock in Tesla. He has pledged another $21 billion in cash, though he has not outlined the source of that money.”

  • “The deal is not set to close for another three to six months.”

  • “European officials said on Tuesday that Twitter under Mr. Musk’s ownership would have to abide by its new Digital Services Act. The landmark law, which is likely to take effect by next year, requires social media companies to police their platforms more aggressively to fight misinformation and restrict certain online ads.”

  • “He plans to take Twitter private and that he wants to improve the product and promote free speech on the platform.”

  • “Free speech and content moderators. Mr. Musk has frequently expressed concern that Twitter’s content moderators go too far and intervene too much on the platform, which he sees as the internet’s ‘de facto town square.’”

  • “The algorithm. At a TED conference this month, he elaborated on his plans to make the company’s algorithm an open-source model, which would allow users to see the code showing how certain posts came up in their timelines.”

  • “Who uses the platform and how. Before Mr. Musk offered to buy Twitter ( . . . ), he expressed concern about the relevance of the platform. When an account posted a list of the 10 most followed Twitter accounts, including former President Barack Obama and the pop stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, Mr. Musk responded and wrote: ‘Most of these ‘top’ accounts tweet rarely and post very little content. Is Twitter dying?’ More recently, the Tesla chief executive promised in a tweet Thursday that he would ‘defeat the spam bots or die trying!’”

We are following this closely, intrigued by how the platform will transform if the deal officially goes through, and even more so, how it effects users and our ability to conduct social media investigations for claims purposes.

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