Trump vows not to return to Twitter despite 'free-speech absolutist' Elon Musk's takeover

25 April 2022, 19:56 | Updated: 26 April 2022, 14:41

Trump vowed not to return to Twitter despite Elon Musk's takeover
Trump vowed not to return to Twitter despite Elon Musk's takeover. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Donald Trump has refused to rejoin Twitter despite "free speech absolutist" Elon Musk's £34bn takeover.

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The former US president was a committed user of the platform until he was banned for what the social media giant attributed to the "risk of further incitement of violence" after the January 2021 Capitol riots in Washington.

Elon Musk, the world's richest man with an estimated fortune of $269bn, bought up Twitter in a $44bn (£34.6bn) takeover, saying he plans to "unlock" the full potential of the social media giant.

A couple of hours before the deal was reached he posted online: "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."

But Mr Trump said even though Twitter was under new ownership, he would not return.

"I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH," he told Fox News, referring to a platform run by Trump Media & Technology Group, ahead of Mr Musk's deal.

"I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH."

He added: "The bottom line is, no, I am not going back to Twitter."

Twitter and Mr Musk negotiated into the early hours of Monday over his bid to buy the social media platform, less than two weeks after the billionaire first revealed a massive stake.

The Tesla CO revealed last week that he had lined up 46.5 billion dollars (£36.2 billion) in financing to buy Twitter, putting pressure on the company's board to negotiate a deal.

"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," said Musk in a statement after the announcement.

Adding: "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.

"Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."

Shares of Twitter rose 5% on Monday ahead of negotiations.

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The billionaire intends to make changes to the platform: "I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.

"I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form."

Mr Musk has already begun asking users what changes they would like to see implemented including the possibility of an edit button.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: "No matter who owns or runs Twitter, president [Biden] has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms, the power they have over our everyday lives."

He took to Twitter to pledge: "If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying! And authenticate all real humans."

He has also suggested nixing ads from Twitter Blue, lowering the subscription price, and adding Dogecoin as a payment option on the platform.

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Mr Musk describes himself as a "free-speech absolutist," although he has not been exactly clear what he means by that. In a recent TED interview, the billionaire said he would like to see Twitter err on the side of allowing speech instead of moderating it.

He said he would be "very reluctant" to delete tweets and would generally be cautious about permanent bans. He also acknowledged that Twitter would have to abide by national laws governing speech in markets around the world.

Mr Musk himself, though, regularly blocks social media users who have criticised him or his company and has used the platform to bully reporters who have written critical articles about him or his company.

Twitter had enacted an anti-takeover measure known as a poison pill last week in a bid to make a takeover attempt prohibitively expensive.

But the board decided to negotiate after Mr Musk updated his proposal to show he had secured financing, according to The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the negotiations were under way.

Bret Taylor, Twitter's Independent Board Chair, said after the announcement: "The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing.

"The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders."

Whilst Parag Agrawal, Twitter's CEO, added: "Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world. Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important."

Also, a rival bidder to Mr Musk may not be stepping up any time soon, fearful of the byzantine task of moderating content on the platform, something that Mr Musk has vowed to do less of.

"The Twitter board could not find a white knight and with Musk's financing detailed the clock has essentially struck midnight for the board which is why negotiations have begun to get a deal done," said Dan Ives, who follows Twitter for Wedbush Securities.

Last week, Elon Musk said in documents filed with US securities regulators that the money would come from Morgan Stanley and other banks, some of it secured by his huge stake in electric car maker Tesla.

Elon Musk is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $273 billion.