Elon Musk has succeeded in his mission to buy social media platform Twitter. The final bid? A massive $44 billion. As the world reacts, we want to think about how this move could both benefit and harm small businesses.
The new features Musk mentioned in his public statement could help further commercialise the platform with advanced advertisement opportunities, a feature that competitors like Facebook and Instagram have offered businesses of all sizes, but that are particularly used by small businesses as an affordable and flexible option to market to a wide audience. It might draw more SMEs to the platform and could be a great new opportunity for current business users.
However, Musk’s commitment to ‘free speech’ could also throw some hammers into the works. While Musk’s intentions around the idea of ‘free speech’ have been rather grey in the past, depending on how far he introduces these new policies, it could affect how users report harmful or defamatory tweets. Could it become more difficult for small businesses to have fake, negative reviews removed from the platform in the name of ‘free speech’? Are we likely to see an increase in the spread of misinformation? In the past, Musk has threatened and pursued legal actions against individuals who publicly criticised him, so it is difficult to predict how any new policies might impact the platform. The concerns on how safe the site will be for minority communities, who still regularly face abuse online, are at the forefront of most public speculation.
The European Commission has made it clear to the billionaire businessman that Twitter must follow its new digital rules as part of the Digital Services Act, introduced to protect user rights online. The Act applies to all major digital and social platforms, and it is interesting to questions whether Musk’s pledge to reduce censorship stands at odds with the EU’s regulations.
Twitter stockholders will benefit from a $54.20 price tag on each share of the company they hold when the deal finalises. While some users have already publicly announced their departure from the site, many seem to be waiting to see how the platform will be affected by the takeover. Changes will likely be implemented slowly and carefully.