Billionaire Elon Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion on Monday, promising a more lenient touch in policing content on the platform.
Twitter said the transaction was “unanimously approved” by its board of directors and is expected to close in 2022.
The deal was cemented roughly two weeks after the billionaire first revealed a 9% stake in the platform. Musk said last week that he had lined up $46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter, putting pressure on the company’s board to negotiate a deal.
Since it became clear that Musk—a self-described “free speech absolutist”—was serious about trying to buy Twitter, progressives have been warning that such an agreement could have major anti-democratic consequences, placing control of a social media platform used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide under the control of an ultra-billionaire with libertarian leanings and history of opposition to organized labour and workers’ rights.
Musk said in a joint statement with Twitter that he wants to make the service “better than ever” with new features, such as getting rid of automated “spam bots” and making its algorithms open to the public to increase trust.
“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,” Musk said, adding hearts, stars and rocket emojis in a tweet that highlighted the statement.