Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover Deal Is On Hold

Elon Musk has halted his widely publicized $44 billion proposal to acquire Twitter until he has more information regarding fraudulent accounts on the network. “Twitter agreement temporarily on hold for data supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do actually constitute fewer than 5% of users,” the SpaceX and Telsa billionaire tweeted early on Friday, May 13.

Musk referenced a May 2 Reuters report claiming that up to 5% of Twitter’s monetizable daily active users are fake or spam accounts. If the transaction goes through, Musk has already stated that removing “spam bots” from the network will be one of his top goals. “We will battle the spam bots or die trying if our Twitter bid succeeds!” On April 21, Musk sent a tweet.

“I am absolutely their opponent if someone is conducting a bot and troll army,” he remarked at the Met Gala earlier this May. “Free expression is the backbone of a functional democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where things critical to humanity’s future are debated,” Musk said in a statement released shortly after Twitter accepted Musk’s offer.

He has previously chastised Twitter for “failing to adhere to free speech values.” It’s more difficult than Musk would think to walk the line between a platform that protects its users by forbidding hate speech (and threats, etc.) and one that permits more freedom of expression. Twitter and Facebook have had to deal with disinformation regarding the 2020 election from the US president, as well as misinformation concerning COVID. They elected to classify tweets as misleading or untrue, and to ban users (including Trump) who violated the platform’s rules.

Other social media platforms that have made a strong commitment to free expression have discovered that it is not as straightforward as it appears. Parler, for example, aspired to create a space where people could freely express themselves. It wasn’t long before they had to prohibit users from using the nickname “CumDumpster” and from submitting images of their own feces.

The Parler CEO outlines their content policies like thus. Platforms must also follow hate speech and online protection laws in the countries where they operate, such as the UK’s planned online safety bill. Surprisingly, Amnesty International has chimed in on the Twitter takeover, pressuring Musk to maintain anti-discrimination policies.