Relief and disappointment when Musk backs out of Twitter deal

This illustration photo, taken July 8, 2022, shows Elon Musk’s Twitter page displayed on a smartphone screen with the Twitter logo in the background in Los Angeles. – Elon Musk terminated his deal to buy Twitter on July 8, 2022, accusing the company of “misleading” claims about the number of fake accounts, regulatory reports showed. (Photo by Chris DELMASS/AFP)

WASHINGTON, USA (AFP) — Elon Musk’s decision to pull out of buying Twitter has been met with a mixture of relief and disappointment across the political spectrum, with many criticizing the Tesla founder and others applauding his “exposing” the influential messaging platform.

The announcement of a $44 billion deal in late April raised fears that the platform would face a surge in abuse and misinformation after Musk — a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist — said he would pretty much allow anyone to say whatever is legal on Twitter.

Musk’s Friday announcement that he no longer wants to buy Twitter sparked a triumph from advocacy groups that have launched a campaign to stop the world’s richest man from making the purchase.

“Musk-led Twitter would open a Pandora’s box and reopen the floodgates to hate and groundless conspiracy theories, making the platform and country a more dangerous place,” said Bridget Todd, communications director for advocacy group UltraViolet.

The termination of the deal “is a welcome respite for women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Nicole Gill, co-founder and CEO of accountable tech, a far-left organization, called Musk’s proposal a “chaotic crusade.”

“Our information ecosystem, security and democracy cannot be run by irresponsible billionaires,” she said.

But hopes were dashed for others who believed that Musk’s management of the platform would lead to a weakening of measures aimed at curbing bullying, lies and other abuses that are considered politically motivated and against free speech.

“The party is really over. A purge is coming,” conservative commentator Dave Rubin tweeted.

Donald Trump Jr., son of the former president, has predicted that “censorship” on Twitter will “come back tenfold.”

“At the moment there is no chance for freedom of thought or speech here,” he said on his father’s fledgling platform Truth Social, launched after he was kicked out of his preferred environment, where he amassed an estimated 88.7 million followers.

The former president was banned from Twitter after accusations that he used it to incite his followers to attack the US Capitol on January 6 last year.

While Musk said he would lift Elder Trump’s ban, another billionaire said he would stick to Truth Social, a message he repeated on Friday.

“TWITTER deal CLOSED, long live TRUE,” he wrote on Truth Social.

Twitter’s other conservative competitor, GETTR, also took the opportunity to advertise itself as an alternative platform that would “defend free speech online.”

CEO Jason Miller praised Musk “for further exposing an incurable, rotting, politically discriminatory culture” on Twitter.

The deal may not go through, but the Musk-Twitter tug of war is far from over as the company says it will take legal action to enforce the agreement.

© Agence France-Presse