Hours after announcing his $43 billion hostile takeover bid for Twitter, business magnate Elon Musk laid out some of his goals for the social media giant, including an edit button that would let users amend ill-considered tweets.
Musk made the comments on the concluding day of the annual TED Conference in Vancouver. In a question-and-answer session, he said Twitter is the global town square and an important and inclusive area for free speech.
He said he has enough assets to cover the $43 billion purchase himself but did not divulge details of how he expects to finance the attempted takeover. If necessary, he said, he has a “Plan B” for acquiring the company.
Musk said if successful, he will make Twitter’s algorithms open source, introduce an edit button for people to change their tweets and will work to “ban the bot armies," or automated computer programs, from the platform. The edit option will be available for only a limited time after a tweet is sent, he said.
In answering questions from TED head curator and organizer Chris Anderson, Musk also said that when tweets are changed, all retweets and likes to the original message will be deleted.
Musk also indicated that under his control, Twitter would be more reluctant to delete tweets that are of questionable taste or veracity and that when in doubt, he would allow a tweet to exist. But the platform would follow the laws of the different countries where it exists, he said.
Musk also was harshly critical of the San Francisco office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, describing its staff as “those bastards.” The comment came in reference to fraud charges brought by the SEC regarding some 2,018 tweets that Musk sent claiming he had the funding to take his Tesla electric car company private.
In the settlement, Musk was forced to resign as chairman of Tesla, issue a $40 million payout to shareholders and have a lawyer approve his future tweets about the company. Musk said financial institutions forced him into the agreement, as if the SEC had been “holding a gun to your child’s head.” He agreed only to save the company, he said.
The 50-year-old entrepreneur, who also runs SpaceX and the Boring Company, announced the $43 billion takeover bid for Twitter just hours before arriving in Vancouver.
Last week, he purchased 9.2% of the company’s stock but subsequently turned down a seat on the company’s board of directors, which would have limited the amount he could own to 14.9%.
Musk said 2016 to 2018 were the worst years of his life, as Tesla encountered problems with the production of the Model 3. He said he now knows more about manufacturing than anybody on Earth after sleeping on the floors of assembly plants to work out the problems.
He also talked about building sustainable energy from wind, solar, hydro and geothermal, and repeated his support of nuclear power. He briefly talked about further developing robotic intelligence, saying the first robots to help people in everyday life are not far off. Musk said the robots will be affordable, but it should not be possible to update them remotely like computers or his Tesla vehicles.
Besides making these announcements in Vancouver, Musk has a personal tie to the city. The musician Grimes, whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher, is the mother of his two youngest children and grew up in the city, where she has family.