Elon Musk plans to take on the role of chief executive of Twitter after it completes its acquisition of the platform and will scrap permanent user bans, it has been reported.
Mr. Musk will replace Parag Agrawal, who was one of several senior executives to be ousted at the end of the takeover, but may eventually hand over the role in the longer term, according to a Bloomberg report.
The Tesla boss also intends to get rid of permanent bans on user accounts because he doesn’t believe in lifetime bans, according to the report, which means high profile and polarizing figures who had been previously banned, including Donald Trump, would be allowed to return – but it’s unclear when that might happen.
On Friday, Mr Trump posted on his own Truth Social platform that he was “very happy that Twitter is now in good hands”, but did not comment on a possible comeback, instead praising his own app, which was launched after he was banned from Twitter.
Mr Musk appeared to celebrate that his protracted takeover of the social media giant had come to an end by tweeting shortly before 5am UK time on Friday: ‘the bird is free’, in reference to the logo of the Twitter bird.
A US court had set a deadline of Friday for the boss of Tesla and SpaceX to complete its acquisition of the platform for $44bn (£38bn).
Twitter has yet to release another statement confirming the deal, but several prominent figures and board members, including Bret Taylor, who had served as the company’s president, have edited their social media profiles to indicate that they no longer work for the company.
Many people have raised concerns about some of Mr Musk’s proposals for a Twitter platform under his leadership, including his position as a “free speech absolutist” that would allow any non-illegal content to remain. on the site.
This approach would likely conflict with upcoming proposed regulations for the tech sector, including the UK’s Online Safety Bill, which will require the biggest platforms not only to remove illegal content , but also to take action against “legal but harmful” content that has been designated. a priority and a threat to user safety.
Meanwhile, many users have threatened to quit Twitter if content moderation is relaxed.
It was also reported that many employees planned to leave the company following the takeover and some security activists warned that Twitter could become an easy target for hackers following the deal and so that Mr. Musk is restructuring the company.
But the billionaire has already taken steps to calm those fears. On Thursday, he issued a statement to Twitter advertisers in which he said he was acquiring the platform because he felt it was important to have a space where “a wide range of beliefs can be discussed in a meaningful way. healthy”.
He added that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said without consequences.”
“In addition to respecting the laws of the country, our platform should be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose the experience you want based on your preferences,” he said.
Social media expert Matt Navarra said he was not surprised by the reports and said the rollback of permanent bans to allow “some of the most polarizing, controversial and disruptive accounts” back on Twitter was the “most likely” big change to make. at the start of Mr. Musk’s tenure.
“It’s likely that we’ll see someone like Donald Trump or Kanye West return to the platform quite quickly,” he told the PA news agency.
“The reason I think this is because it’s pretty easy to do – it doesn’t require any code changes or new products or features to be created, so I think it’s very likely that it will. do.
“It will create the most headlines and make a statement to the world, to Twitter users and to everyone else that he has arrived and is in charge.
“And I think that sounds like a very Elon Musk thing to do – so I think that’s probably the most likely big change we’ll see early on.”
As part of his other plans for the site, Mr. Musk also talked about removing all spam and bot accounts from Twitter and using Twitter as part of a so-called “everything app” called X, where users can access a wide range of services in one place.
It’s similar to WeChat in China, where users can access social media, online shopping and money transfer, taxi hire, restaurant reservations and more from a single app. .