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Elon Musk expected to complete Twitter purchase this week

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, appears at a U.S. Air Force event in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 7, 2022.
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, appears at a U.S. Air Force event in Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 7, 2022. (Photo by Trevor Cokley, U.S. Air Force, Graphic by The Desk)

Update: Shortly after this story was published, it was reported that Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter was finalized Thursday evening. Musk has fired several top executives, according to numerous reports. For the latest on this story, click or tap here…

Elon Musk, the founder and chief executive of Tesla and Starlink, is meeting with executives and staffers at Twitter this week as he moves forward with his planned purchase of the social media platform.

The deal could close by the end of the week, according to the Wall Street Journal, and is valued at $44 billion. Twitter’s board approved the purchase earlier this year, though a protracted legal batter over certain elements — including the precise number of robots using Twitter’s services — has delayed the closure of the deal.

In a statement this week, Musk said he wanted to acquire Twitter in order to “help humanity,” not to make money. He said his intention as Twitter’s owner is to foster an environment where free speech and expression can flourish, without much restriction, though he cautioned overtly abusive behavior shouldn’t and won’t be tolerated.

Precisely how Musk intends to fulfill this mission is unclear. Some have expressed concern over Musk’s own tweets, in which he supported musician Kanye West (“Ye”) around the same time that the rapper made anti-Semitic social media posts. Musk has also been probed by federal regulators over tweets he made that appeared to be in violation of securities laws regarding material, non-public information about Tesla, a publicly-traded company.

Others have said Musk’s support of former President Donald Trump is also concerning. Trump was banned from Twitter and a number of other social media websites following the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, which he is accused of instigating with harmful rhetoric, much of it posted on social media. Earlier this year, Musk said if his acquisition of Twitter goes through, he would be in favor of reversing Trump’s permanent ban from Twitter, which could open the door for the ex-president’s return to the platform.

“I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” Musk said in April. “I think it was a mistake, because it alienated a lare part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.” (In February, Trump launched Truth Social, a Twitter clone that has looser content restrictions. He claims he doesn’t intend to re-join Twitter if the ban is reversed.)

Twitter primarily generates revenue through advertisements across its platform. In recent weeks, marketing firms have raised concerns that Musk’s purchase of Twitter could lead to looser content restrictions that would invite hateful and abusive posts to flourish. If that happens, companies have said they intend to reduce their ad spend on the platform.

Musk appeared to address these concerns this week with a statement to investors and advertisers, in which he affirmed that Twitter “cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”

On Wednesday, Twitter’s current chief customer officer, Sarah Personette, posted that she had met with Musk and was looking forward to whatever the future held.

“Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remains unchanged,” she tweeted.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).