On Elon Musk’s first full day as the owner of Twitter, the social media company immediately began to feel his imprint.
Twitter’s top executives were fired and its board of directors dissolved. The company said its stock would stop trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 8. Musk announced that he planned to form a council to handle Twitter’s content questions and would not immediately reinstate users who had been barred. And he tapped confidants for help and established a “war room” at Twitter to review its products and policies.
On Twitter itself, some Republicans and conservative media personalities celebrated the new ownership. The number of followers to several right-wing Twitter accounts skyrocketed.
The changes and reactions began a new era for a social media service called the world’s town square, which is now firmly in the control of the world’s richest man. Musk, 51, completed his blockbuster $44 billion acquisition of Twitter late Thursday and did not hesitate to make his presence known. A mercurial and unpredictable innovator, he has promised to transform the service by loosening its content moderation rules, incorporating new technology and making its algorithm more transparent.
But Musk faces myriad challenges leading Twitter, which come atop his responsibilities at Tesla as well as at the rocket maker SpaceX and several startups. Regulators in Europe immediately said they would scrutinize how he changes the service, while advertisers and misinformation researchers denounced the potential for a surge in toxic content and falsehoods on the platform.
Musk also now confronts the challenge of actually running Twitter, a money-losing company with 7,500 employees and 240 million users. He did not immediately appoint executives to head the company Friday but did try appealing to advertisers, who provide the bulk of Twitter’s revenue. Musk, who took on about $13 billion in debt to finance the deal for Twitter, must also pay lenders about $1 billion in interest payments annually.
On Friday, Musk indicated that he was up for the challenge. “Let the good times roll,” he tweeted. He, along with Twitter, did not respond to requests for comment.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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