Elon Musk Reportedly Makes An About-Face And Offers To Buy Twitter At His Original Price

The ongoing Elon Musk/Twitter saga has just produced another surprising twist. Rumors have now emerged that Musk is happy to push on with the deal, despite everything that has happened over the past few months. Twitter is currently suing the world's richest man in an attempt to force the deal through, though that lawsuit may now be unnecessary. There was only a chance a judge would order Musk to complete the deal, and other outcomes could include the Tesla owner paying out billions in compensation, having to give Twitter the previously agreed $1 billion break free, or simply walking away scot free.

The drama originally started several months ago when Musk revealed he was Twitter's biggest shareholder. From there, the 51-year-old initiated discussions to buy the platform outright. Although some were skeptical at first, talks seemed to be going well until they hit a fairly major snag. Musk cast doubt on the number of bots that are currently active on the social media network. Twitter puts that number at 5%, but Musk demanded to know how it arrived at that figure and wanted his team to have access to what Twitter considered an unreasonable amount of data. Musk pulled out, and the legal battle commenced. Since then there have been a number of twists and turns, including an allegation that Musk killed the deal because he was concerned World War 3 was about to start.

Twitter may have a new owner

If the rumors are correct, Musk may now be attempting to proceed with the deal under its original terms. Those terms involve purchasing the company at $54.20 a share, for a grand total of around $44 billion. Several news outlets, including Bloomberg, are citing people with inside knowledge of the deal who claim Musk has made the proposal in a formal letter to the social media giant. Twitter's share price surged significantly as news of the potential takeover leaked out, spiking by as much as 18% before trading was halted.

Although the $44 billion figure is nowhere near Musk's total net worth, the billionaire isn't just relying on his own money to buy the social media platform. The tech billionaire has previously drummed up over $25 billion in private financing, which he will then supplement with his own personal finances. If the takeover is completed, Musk will own Twitter as a private company, and it will no longer be traded on public stock markets.

A Musk takeover could lead to a free speech platform

Early on in the Twitter saga, Musk mooted plans to turn Twitter into a "free speech platform" and that idea drew a mixed response. In a filing lodged with the Securities and Exchanges Commission, Musk said, "I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy." That idea has also been followed up on the platform itself, with the controversial billionaire extensively tweeting about free speech, and free speech absolutism. 

Musk's followers, for the most part, also seem to agree with his takes on freedom of expression and Twitter's shortcomings in that department. Back in April, he posted a poll with the statement "Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy" before asking if Twitter "rigorously adheres" to that principle. A staggering 70% of the respondents didn't believe it did.

According to another tweet, Musk clarified that his definition of "free speech" does have its limitations, and they are probably the same as those held by the United States government. Free speech is constitutionally protected in the United States, but there are still some limitations. A famous example is yelling fire in a crowded theater, though according to the Whalen Law Office, that is actually a myth and yelling fire in your local cinema is totally legal. There are actually very few legal restrictions on speech in the United States. The authorities won't step in unless the speech in question is violating other laws, such as those relating to harassment, espionage, incitement to illegal conduct, and threats amongst other things (via The Conversation).

Not everyone is happy with the free speech prospect

Musk's promise to bring free speech absolutism to Twitter has received criticism from a number of individuals, with some threatening to leave the platform altogether. If the entrepreneur aligns Twitter's rules with U.S. law, then Twitter could theoretically become free for all varieties of homophobia, racism, sexism, and any other kind of -ism or phobia you can think of without the rules of the platform being contravened. As long as violence isn't being directly incited, all of that is legal. However, even if Twitter doesn't step in and issue a ban, there may be real-world repercussions based on what has been said online. People have already been fired for things they've said on social media, and short of buying every company on Earth, Musk can't really prevent that from happening.

There are also concerns regarding "misinformation," with some users concerned the platform could become a hotbed for conspiracy theories and unchecked propaganda. There are even some Twitter accounts Musk himself has wanted to be shut down, though if his Twitter timeline is to be believed, they may not be in too much danger. Twitter's potential new owner has said, "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."