After months of bickering, tech billionaire Elon Musk has bought Twitter. Critics fear that the online network could now become an even bigger hotbed of hatred, hate speech and disinformation.

Now it’s official: Elon Musk has completed the purchase of the short message service Twitter for around 44 billion dollars (44.2 billion euros). Twitter informed the US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday about the delisting, thereby confirming the completion of the takeover.

This ends a month-long back and forth, which in the meantime was heading towards an explosive court case. Musk is now taking private ownership of the online network – the New York Stock Exchange has already taken the shares from trading. In addition, the tech billionaire wants to set up a new management.

Musk wants to take on top positions himself

According to consistent US media reports, Musk fired senior executives on Thursday, including former company boss Parag Agrawal and CFO Ned Segal. Allegedly, Musk initially wanted to take over the top post himself. Only over time could he give the job to someone else, it was said. Musk tweeted that night, referring to the company’s logo, “The bird is freed.” He already leads the electric car manufacturer Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX.

According to the star entrepreneur, buying Twitter is about strengthening freedom of speech. However, critics fear that the tone on the Internet platform will be brutalized and are concerned that the change of ownership will lead to more unbridled hate messages, hate speech and disinformation. The federal government said yesterday that it wanted to monitor developments on Twitter “very closely” after Musk’s takeover. EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton warned Musk in a tweet against making the short message service an unregulated platform: “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our EU rules”.

Too lax moderation of content could also scare off advertising partners, putting Twitter’s main source of income at risk. Against this background, Musk wrote an open letter to the company’s advertising customers on Thursday. Twitter should not become a “place of horror” where anything can be said without consequences, he explained. The platform must be “warm and inviting for everyone”. Musk continued that he didn’t buy Twitter because it would be easy or to make more money. “I did it to help humanity I love.”

For months he wanted to call off the expensive takeover

Musk had actually agreed on the takeover with Twitter in April. In July, however, he declared the agreement invalid because of alleged misrepresentations about fake accounts. Twitter then sued for compliance with the purchase agreement. At the beginning of October, the boss of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla surprisingly renewed his purchase offer, which led to the court proceedings being suspended. However, the responsible judge had given the parties to the dispute a deadline to conclude the deal by October 28th.

Musk had been trying to call off the expensive takeover for months. However, after it became increasingly clear that his chances in the court process were rather poor, he gave up his resistance. As a result, the troubled company is now in the possession of a man of all people who has been publicly criticizing the company management for the past few months and has spread doubts about the value of the company. It has been clear over the past few days that Musk has come to terms with his new role as Twitter owner.

Is Donald Trump Returning To Twitter?

The fact that the richest person in the world, according to billionaire rankings such as the “Forbes” list, is now pulling the strings in the online network is also politically explosive. Musk has already spoken out in favor of reinstating former US President Donald Trump on the platform. In May, Musk called Trump’s ban from Twitter in the wake of his expressions of sympathy for supporters who stormed the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021 “morally wrong and just plain stupid”. A return to the influential network would come just in time for Trump to run for the 2024 presidential election.

Trump’s reaction to the completion of Musk’s takeover was not long in coming. “I’m so glad Twitter is in good hands now and is no longer run by left-wing crackpots and lunatics who really hate our country,” he wrote yesterday on Truth Social, a social media platform he co-founded. Twitter must now work hard to rid itself of all the bots and fake accounts that have harmed the online service. “It will be much smaller, but better,” said the former US President.

Most recently, Musk also received criticism for two foreign policy advances. He suggested making Taiwan a “special administrative region” under Chinese rule. The government in Taipei rejected this as “unacceptable”. Musk also called for Ukraine to give up Russia’s illegally annexed Crimea and agree to a UN-supervised referendum in its Russian-held territories.

Red numbers again?

Meanwhile, Twitter has been struggling with business for a long time. In view of inflation and economic risks, advertisers are holding back on the online advertising market, which is by far the most important source of income for the internet platform. Twitter has not yet presented figures for the past third quarter. However, in the previous quarter, sales declined slightly and it incurred a loss of $270 million. After all, the number of daily active users rose from 229 million to 237.8 million.