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Elon Musk's offer to buy Twitter is all about free speech

Elon Musk at the TED2022 conference
(Image credit: TED)

What you need to know

  • After purchasing a large stake in Twitter, Elon Musk offered to purchase the entire company.
  • Musk says he wants to create an "inclusive arena for free speech," calling Twitter the "de-factor town square."
  • Twitter employees reportedly view the takeover as "unwelcome."
  • Musk says there is a "Plan B" if the deal does not happen.

Elon Musk surprised everyone when he recently purchased nearly 10% of Twitter, a platform he is very vocal on. However, the Tesla CEO make a bold move on Thursday when he made an offer to purchase 100% of the company's common stock. Shortly after, he appeared at the TED 2022 conference, where he discussed why he decided to make an offer for Twitter.

He's a firm believer in free speech

When asked why he decided to make the offer to purchase Twitter, Musk says it all boils down to free speech and trust. "I think it's very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech," he says in the interview, referring to Twitter as the "de facto town square."

Musk states that he doesn't care about the economics of buying Twitter and that he simply wants to make it a more trustworthy platform. He believes Twitter should not go beyond federal law to moderate speech and hopes to make the algorithm open-source so that people can "look through it" and prevent any "behind-the-scenes manipulation."

"If in doubt, let the speech exist," Musk continues. "If it’s a grey area, I would say let the tweet exist… but obviously, in a case where there is a lot of controversy, that you do not necessarily want to promote that tweet."

"I’m not saying I have all the answers, but I do think that we want to be very reluctant to delete things and be very cautious with permanent bans. Timeouts, I think, are better than permanent bans."

He says the best example that we have free speech is that "if someone you don't like is allowed to say something you don’t like, and if that is the case, then we have free speech."

Will Elon Musk buy Twitter?

It was pointed out that Musk previously stated that he did not want to buy Twitter, a stance that has obviously changed within the past week or so. However, Musk says early on in the interview that he's not sure he'll actually be able to acquire Twitter. When asked if funding is secure, the richest man in the world (per Forbes) joked that he has "sufficient assets" without providing any details. Though, he did say that he was not interested in buying out other shareholders.

However, it seems Twitter may not be interested in selling to Musk. In a statement on Thursday, the company acknowledged that an "unsolicited, unbinding proposal" was made by Musk and that discussions are underway. "The Twitter Board of Directors will carefully review the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the Company and all Twitter stockholders."

Yet, despite the fairly blasé statement, Twitter's board of directors is reportedly prepared to fight the bid, according to a report from The Information, viewing it as "unwelcome."

Still, a decision may not come swiftly, and the company could face backlash either way. However, if the board does not decide to accept the offer, Musk says that he has a "Plan B," again, without going into detail.

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.