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Elon Musk, nearing Twitter deal, says site will continue to police hateful content

CARINA JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who appears set to acquire Twitter, said on Thursday that he plans to police some content on the platform that falls short of breaking the law, signaling that he will preserve more content moderation than he had previously indicated.

Musk, an avowed proponent of free speech, has faced questions from some analysts over the potential loss of users and advertisers if a more permissive approach to content allows hate speech and false information to proliferate on the platform.

In a letter directed at advertisers on Twitter, Musk explained the motivation behind his bid for the platform and his plans for content policing.

“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,” Musk said.

“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said without consequences!” he added. “In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences.”

Musk, who faces a deadline to acquire Twitter this week or move forward with a legal proceeding, posted a video on Wednesday of what appeared to be a visit with the company.

The remarks on Thursday appeared to walk back comments made by Musk in recent months, which emphasized his commitment to the principle of free speech and suggested that Twitter should permit all speech that stops short of violating the law.

“My preference is to hew close to the laws of countries in which Twitter operates,” he said in May. “If the citizens want something banned, then pass a law to do so, otherwise it should be allowed.”

Twitter filed a lawsuit against Musk in July over a previous effort to terminate the acquisition agreement. The judge in that trial paused the proceeding this month, giving the two sides until Friday to reach a deal.

Musk — the richest person in the world, according to Forbes — put forward a proposal to Twitter earlier this month that would complete the deal at Musk’s original offer price of $54.20 a share at a total cost of roughly $44 billion.

Shares in Twitter were up slightly on Thursday at nearly $54 per share — a figure that stands just shy of the offer price from Musk.

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