New York, Oct 28 (EFE).- Multi-billionaire business leader Elon Musk has begun his tenure as Twitter’s owner by taking two significant – if widely expected – steps, firing its four top executives and moving to delist the company’s shares from the New York Stock Exchange.
The South African-born American CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the world’s wealthiest individual, also announced Friday the creation of a new “content moderation council,” saying he will not reinstate any banned accounts or make any significant content decisions until it convenes.
With his tweet Thursday night stating the “bird is freed,” Musk acknowledged the completion of his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.
A few hours earlier, leading US media outlets had reported that Musk had shown the door to four senior company executives: CEO Parag Agrawal; Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal; the company’s top legal and policy executive, Vijaya Gadde; and General Counsel Sean Edgett.
The severance packages to be paid out to those executives will cost Musk some $204 million, according to news portal MarketWatch.
Nevertheless, when Musk tweeted that “the bird is freed,” the European Union’s commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton, issued an immediate response: “the bird will fly by our rules.”
He was referring in particular to the EU’s recently approved Digital Services Act, which mandates that large platforms like Twitter, Google, Apple and Amazon quickly take down illegal material – including hate speech, images of child sexual abuse and incitement to terrorism – as soon as they become aware of it.
Hours later, without referring to that warning, Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” tweeted that Twitter will be forming a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.”
“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” he added.
The most prominent banned individual is former US President Donald Trump, who was deemed to have violated Twitter’s Glorification of Violence policy for a pair of tweets two days after his supporters’ Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, a violent event that occurred while lawmakers were voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Trump, who subsequently launched a rival to Twitter known as Truth Social, posted a message on that service Friday applauding Musk’s takeover but gave no indication of whether he would return if he were reinstated.
“I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our country,” the ex-president said.
In another major day-one decision for Musk, Twitter said in a securities filing Friday that its shares will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 8. Its shares on that exchange had already stooped trading on Friday morning.
Musk had made clear from the beginning that he planned to make Twitter a private company, a move that will make it subject to less regulatory scrutiny than it is now as a publicly traded company.
The filing also confirmed the merger between Twitter and X Holdings, a vehicle Musk established to execute the deal that will own all of the social media giant’s shares.
Separately, Musk clarified in an open letter to advertisers on the social network what motivated him to acquire Twitter and sought to allay their concerns about an easing of restrictions on content.
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” he said.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” Musk wrote. “Fundamentally, Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise.” EFE