WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Twitter is on the brink of its next chapter. Elon Musk is set to close a $44 billion deal to purchase the social media platform on Friday, and all eyes are on Musk to see how he will tackle the challenge of monitoring hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire addressed Twitter advertisers Thursday in a statement posted to the platform, trying to downplay some of the concerns that have floated around the Twittersphere. He claimed he is buying Twitter to prevent it from becoming a “free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said without consequences.”
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization 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 tweeted.
At least one expert is confident in Musk’s plans for the platform. Carl Szabo, the vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, a lobbying team representing several big tech groups in Washington, believes companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google can find a way to fairly regulate hate speech and disinformation without government intervention.
“Elon Musk taking over Twitter and making decisions … is going to be best for all Americans,” Szabo said.
Not everyone is convinced. Jared Holt monitors hate speech and online misinformation for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
“Remarkably little has changed about my job,” Holt said. “Misinformation, conspiracy theories and that sort of thing are as rampant as ever.”
He said tech companies have made promises to stop the spread of harmful content but so far have fallen far short.
“There’s plenty of people inside of social media companies trying to do the right thing,” Holt said. “But they will always be at odds with the business interest. … At their core (is making) money by manipulating people, by getting people to spend more time on the app.”
A court order has set the timeline for the deal. A Delaware judge set the Oct. 28 deadline earlier this month as part of a court battle that started in April, after Musk signed a deal to purchase the web platform before trying to back out.
Musk added “Chief Twit” to his profile description and listed “Twitter HQ” as his location. On Wednesday, he posted a video of himself walking into Twitter headquarters carrying a porcelain sink with the caption: “Entering Twitter HQ — let that sink in.”