Brussels keep brand-new owner of Twitter on the leash

Elon Musk

The European Commission has warned Elon Musk that he must follow EU rules following the confirmation that he has taken control of Twitter.

„In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules”, Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, stated on Twitter on Friday morning. A few hours earlier, Musk tweeted to say „the bird has been freed”.

On Thursday night, two people familiar with the deal said Elon Musk had taken control of Twitter and ousted the CEO, chief financial officer and the company’s top lawyer.

The sources did not state if all the paperwork for the deal, originally valued at $44 billion (€43 billion), had been signed, or if the deal has closed. But they said Musk is in charge of the social media platform and has fired CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and Chief Legal Counsel Vijaya Gadde. Neither person wanted to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the deal.

Bloomberg reported Musk will become CEO and will also reverse lifetime bans on Twitter users. Musk originally announced his plans to lift the lifetime Twitter bans in May, sparking fierce criticism as it would those banned on the social media platform include QAnon loyalists, COVID-19 deniers, neo-Nazis, and former US president Donald Trump.

Musk’s changes will be aimed at increasing Twitter’s subscriber base and revenue.

In his first big move earlier on Thursday, Musk attempted to soothe leery Twitter advertisers, saying that he is buying the platform to help humanity and doesn’t want it to become a „free-for-all hellscape”.

The message appeared to be aimed at addressing concerns among advertisers — Twitter’s chief source of revenue — that Musk’s plans to promote free speech by cutting back on moderating content will open the floodgates to more online toxicity and drive away users.

„The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilisation to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence”, Musk wrote in an uncharacteristically long message.

He continued: „There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society”.

Musk has previously expressed distaste for advertising and Twitter’s dependence on it, suggesting more emphasis on other business models such as paid subscriptions that won’t allow big corporations to dictate policy on how social media operates. But on Thursday, he assured advertisers he wants Twitter to be „the most respected advertising platform in the world”>

The note is a shift from Musk’s position that Twitter is unfairly infringing on free speech rights by blocking misinformation or graphic content, said Pinar Yildirim, associate professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Despite internal confusion and low morale tied to fears of layoffs or a dismantling of the company’s culture and operations, Twitter leaders this week have at least outwardly welcomed Musk’s arrival and messaging.

The Washington Post reported last week that Musk told prospective investors that he plans to cut three-quarters of Twitter’s 7,500 workers when he becomes the owner. The newspaper cited documents and unnamed sources familiar with the deliberation.

Musk has spent months deriding Twitter’s “spam bots” and making sometimes contradictory pronouncements about Twitter’s problems and how to fix them. But he has shared a few concrete details about his plans for the social media platform.

Thursday’s note to advertisers shows a newfound emphasis on advertising revenue, especially a need for Twitter to provide more „relevant ads” — which typically means targeted ads that rely on collecting and analysing users’ personal information.

Elon Musk dă în judecată Twitter


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