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Elon Musk tells advertisers he will not make Twitter a ‘free-for-all hellscape’

Elon Musk tells advertisers he will not make Twitter a ‘free-for-all hellscape’


Musk wrote a letter aimed at advertisers who are reportedly ‘concerned’ about what it will look like once the deal closes

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Elon Musk illustration
Laura Normand / The Verge

In a tweet posted Thursday morning, Elon Musk dismissed speculation about why he’d buy Twitter and his thoughts on advertising, writing, “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.”

The thread appears to be a fairly direct response to a report published earlier in the day from The Wall Street Journal that said, “Advertisers are concerned about the billionaire’s plans to soften content moderation and what they say are potential conflicts of interest in auto advertising.”

In June comments to Twitter employees, Musk described his views as believing people should be able to “say pretty outrageous things within the law” but that they shouldn’t necessarily be amplified. Now, his message to advertisers is that “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything is allowed.”

He also placed the blame for hate and division in society on “far right wing and far left wing echo chambers” as well as media he says caters to them.

Without reiterating last week’s Tesla earnings call quip about overpaying, Musk now claims about his pending purchase, “I didn’t do it because it would be easy. I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love.” That message of love was apparently also spread during Musk’s visit to Twitter HQ yesterday, as Bloomberg reports he told workers he actually doesn’t plan to lay off 75 percent of the people who work there.

The WSJ article noted advertising provided 89 percent of Twitter’s $5 billion in revenue last year. While Musk has publicly tossed out ideas about reshaping the service to focus on becoming a WeChat-style everything app and reportedly privately discussed ideas about moving away from advertisers as a main revenue source, any changes in that direction would take time to implement.

All of the indications are that the $44 billion deal to buy Twitter will close ahead of tomorrow’s court-mandated deadline, as a separate report from The Wall Street Journal noted banks helping Musk finance the purchase have started to transfer the billions of dollars in funding.