Welcome to our new Twitter overlord, Elon Musk

World's biggest shitposter buys world's biggest shitpost platform.

CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing "Cyber Rodeo" grand openi...
SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images
Impact

At first it was a lucrative vanity purchase. Then it became a billion-dollar troll job. In short time it transformed into looming corporate warfare. And now, after a dizzying few weeks of rumors and posturing, Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man, is officially the new owner of Twitter.com, bringing to an end one chapter of the social media juggernaut and opening a potentially fraught new one, in one fell swoop.

“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 in a press release accompanying the purchase. “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.”

After initial reports that Twitter’s board of directors was in the process of fighting a potential Musk takeover, Monday’s news of the sale sent company stock prices soaring before trading was halted ahead of the announcement. Musk reportedly purchased the company for $44 billion, putting him at the helm of one of the most influential communications platforms in human history. In the weeks leading up to the purchase, Musk — whose own Twitter account is frequently peppered with disinformation, blatant errors, and sophomoric shitposts — often mused about his ideal social media rules, claiming at one point that because “Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”

While Musk’s purchase was largely celebrated in the site’s toxic right wing enclaves, many on the site expressed concerns over the prospect of his ego-driven leadership. As news broke on Monday morning that negotiations between Musk and the Twitter board had entered their final stages, much of the site’s trending topics were devoted to lamentations for the site, discussions of various other social media platforms as potential exodus targets, and examples of once-beloved social networks that have since become user graveyards. In part, fears over Musk’s reign stem from his history of using the platform to shut down and attack any perceived slight or criticism to his corporate empire. As owner, he is now in command of a massive communications network he can modulate for his own personal and professional interests — directly in opposition to his lip service to free speech absolutism. And given Musk’s penchant for hard-right libertarianism, it’s easy to imagine that his iteration of Twitter will only serve to embolden the site’s already-noxious collection of transphobic, reactionary, cult of personality-worshipping trolls.

For now, however, Twitter remains the de facto communications hub for millions of users that it had been before Musk’s takeover. The question is: How long will that last?