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30 de November de 2023
It finally came true. After many comings and goings that kept public opinion in suspense, the wealthiest man on earth, Elon Musk, has bought Twitter for 44 billion dollars. An event that has given rise to much controversy and critisism and that’s still ongoing after lengthy months of negotiations.
Having this businessman as the main exponent of the platform is what has caused suspicion among users. His outspoken intention of turning Twitter into a new paradigm of freedom of expression and democratic conversation doesn’t fit with the big corporations and international institutions.
Are we facing the degradation of one of the most influential platforms in the world? Users have no doubt: more than half of them want him out according to the poll that Musk posted on his own profile. Let’s go over some of the key aspects of this debate.
Ever since its founder, Jack Dorsey, left the company in November 2021, Twitter has experienced nothing but trouble. One of the main problems has been the proliferation of fake news and conspiracy theories on the platform, favouring misinformation and the rise of new mass manipulation techniques, such as astroturfing.
Another issue that has been heavily criticised has been the moderation of content inside the platform, accused of not putting much effort into deleting offensive or violent information. However, it has also been accused of censoring certain users with no grounds whatsoever.
Amid all these controversies and the rise of new social networks, Twitter’s fate didn’t look so good: its share plummeted and advertising revenue followed. Here is when Elon Musk’s figure first came to the scene, after he made his way to the company’s directors board having bought more than 5% of the company’s shares.
Elon Musk is a businessman, tech tycoon and founder of SpaceX, one of the most important aerospace manufacturers in the world. He is also the owner and CEO of Tesla, OpenAI and Neuralink. Musk is known for his ambitious vision and for finding solutions for global problems through technology and innovation.
His special predilection for the tech world and his prolific activity on Twitter were the two main premises that drove him to buy part of the social network’s stocks in 2021. However, Musk was openly critical of the policies and functionality of the platform through a series of tweets. From that moment on, he started the most surrealist negotiations of the business world in recent history.
As a result of the tycoon’s comments, the company asked him to stop criticising in exchange for a seat on the board of directors. While Musk had accepted at first, it didn’t take him long to go back on his word as he published the offer he received from Twitter’s board of directors and threatened to buy the whole company and delisting it. After coming to a first agreement between both parties, Elon Musk started looping the loop of this whole operation and threatened to decline the purchase.
The social network sued Musk for failure to fulfil the agreement and, even though the tycoon tried to pull out of the operation, he finally admitted his defeat in front of the jury. On the 28th of October of 2022, Twitter’s deal had become official — but that wouldn’t be the end of it.
New owner, new measures. With the screenplay set on the negotiations, every move Elon Musk made was posted on Twitter for his more than 100 million followers.
One of the proposed measures was to fire four of the top managers of the company and 70% of its employees, who decided to post it on their profiles so the whole world would know about the situation. Far from defusing tensions or shifting ground, Musk continued to narrate every move he made on his official account.
At least 50% of my tweets were made on a porcelain throne
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2021
With most of the team fired and the remaining unhappy with the new owner, the frenzy poured into Twitter users who led a massive departure to other platforms. One of the most famous ones was Mastodón, who made the most of the controversy to gain followers. In the end, the platform didn’t disappear like many had anticipated, but there have been some changes:
However, with Elon Musk as the main protagonist of this story, it’s hard to guess how he will act. His last suggestion was to ask, via a poll, whether he should resign as CEO of the company, promising to comply with the results of the poll in which 17 million users took part — 57% said yes.
Against all odds, the tycoon complied. And, naturally, he announced he’s stepping down as executive director through his Twitter account, saying he will do it “as soon as he finds someone as stupid as to take the position”. It all seems to suggest that it will go on for longer than anticipated. So we’ll have to wait to see who’s taking the position.
And, although it seems that this corporate scuffle is about to end, with Musk, anything can happen. Until the next chapter!