According to reports, the Board of Twitter is close to accepting Elon Musk’s $43 billion bid to take the social media giant private.
This development comes after Elon Musk became the majority shareholder of the platform purchasing just under 10% stake in the company. To strengthen his cause for a full takeover, the world’s wealthiest man reportedly met with several shareholders to review the modalities of his $54.20 per share bid for Twitter. This led to several shareholders contacting Twitter’s Board to seriously consider Musk’s offer.
What this could mean for Twitter
Musk has been a loud and vocal critic of Twitter’s approach toward free speech and content censoring. The self-suggested free speech absolutist has made it known on multiple occasions that he supports more unbridled expression on Twitter as long as it is within the parameters of the law and not within the administrative whims of the platform.
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter’s content moderation rules are expected to be relaxed, as it has been levied especially by conservatives that Twitter’s liberal bias has contributed to the decline of coherent discourse on the platform.
It is predicted by pundits that censored conservative voices, including past president Donald Trump may be offered an olive branch to return to the platform, although the American Businessman cum politician has stated his intention to not return to the app.
What it means for Nigeria’s Upcoming Elections
In June 2021, the Presidency in Nigeria indefinitely suspended Twitter’s operations and ordered the country’s mobile networks and internet providers to block access to the platform, for a “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
The suspension occurred shortly after Twitter deleted a tweet from President Buhari that it said was in contravention of its rules. Nigeria went on to lift the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria on 13th January 2022 under stringent conditions for twitter, which are expected to be reviewed, given management change and Musk’s ideals towards free speech.
The Buhari administration has had a storied history with social media, and despite using it as a stepping stone to his presidency, he had been criticized for his authoritarianism over information on social media platforms.
Buhari’s administration has been riddled by a battle of information, prominent of which was the protest against the now-disbanded police anti-robbery squad and the aftermath of the shooting of protesters at the Lagos Lekki tollgate in October 2020, both of which drew global outrage and were combatted by government claims that events were not as grievous as reported.
It is fascinating to see how a free speech motivated Musk Twitter will fare in Nigeria’s 2023 electoral clime.
Will its absolutist approach toward free speech amplify any and all criticisms against the government, leading government to once again regulate social media activity on the platform, citing undermining of corporate existence?
Will contentious issues and possible misinformation be left uncensored in the name of free speech?, will the app permit wrong reporting of election results or claims of fraud, substantiated or otherwise?
Will Twitter of its own volition close operations in Nigeria, in the event censorious legislation, is passed in Nigeria that doesn’t align with its free speech policy?
All of these questions or scenarios and twitter’s possible response to them are just like the app’s likely new owner – very unpredictable.