By Donie O’Sullivan and Clare Duffy, CNN Business
With the deal drama out of the way, attention now turns to Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter.
Beyond the removal of Twitter’s CEO and other executives, Musk’s takeover could also usher in the return of some measure of influence over the company by founder Jack Dorsey, who stepped down as CEO in November and left its board in May. While Dorsey has said he will not formally return to Twitter, he has privately discussed the takeover with Musk and offered advice.
Musk has also reportedly told prospective investors in the deal that he planned to get rid of nearly 75% of the company’s staff, in a move that could disrupt every aspect of how Twitter operates. He previously discussed dramatically reducing Twitter’s workforce in personal text messages with friends about the deal, which were revealed in court filings, and didn’t dismiss the potential for layoffs in a call with Twitter employees in June.
Under Musk, Twitter may not have use for many of its existing staff. Musk has repeatedly made clear he would overhaul Twitter’s content moderation policies and bolster what he calls “free speech,” potentially undoing years of efforts from the company to address misinformation and harassment and to create “healthier” conversations on the platform.
Such a move could also have ripple effects across the social media landscape. Twitter, although smaller than many of its social media rivals, has sometimes acted as a model for how the industry handles problematic content, including when it was the first to ban then-President Trump following the January 6 Capitol riot.
And in recent years, several alternative social networks have launched largely targeting conservatives who claim more mainstream services unduly restrict their speech. These services include Trump’s Truth Social and Parler, which Kanye West recently said he would acquire. While it’s unclear how far Musk could go in fulfilling his free speech dreams, any loosening of existing content moderation policies could effectively make Twitter, which provides a much larger audience, a more enticing service for some of the users who have fled to those smaller, fringe services. (Musk, however, could run into regulatory issues, especially in Europe, depending on how far he takes his efforts to loosen content restrictions.)
Apart from content moderation, Musk has also tossed out a wide range of other possible changes for the platform, from enabling end-to-end encryption for Twitter’s direct messaging feature to suggesting recently that Twitter become part of an “everything” app called X, possibly in the style of popular Chinese app WeChat.
Despite his months-long attempt to get out of buying the company and his own recent remarks that he is “obviously overpaying” for it, Musk has tried to sound optimistic about Twitter’s potential.
“The long-term potential for Twitter, in my view, is an order of magnitude greater than its current value,” he said on Tesla’s earnings conference call last week.
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