Once he owns Twitter, Elon Musk will have to choose between a free speech free-for-all and a profitable business.
When Twitter announced on Monday that it had agreed to sell itself to Elon Musk, its press release included a statement from Musk about his hopes for the acquisition. It was a statement from which one word was conspicuously missing: “profit.” While Musk did mention his plans to improve the Twitter user experience, he made it clear that he isn’t spending $46 billion to acquire the company because he wants to get rich (or, rather, to get richer than he already is). He’s spending it because he thinks the “digital town square” needs more “free speech.” And while it’s always hard to tell what Musk really thinks, in this case it’s hard not to take him at his word, because in economic terms, this deal makes little sense. And if he actually follows through on his plan to turn Twitter into a free-speech free-for-all, it’ll make getting a reasonable return on his massive investment harder, not easier.