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Elon Musk Reaches Agreement to Buy Twitter

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Elon Musk twitter account is seen through Twitter logo in this illustration taken, April 25, 2022.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk reached an agreement Monday to buy Twitter for $44 billion cash, promising to make the platform more supportive of free speech.

The sale will transform the social media giant from a publicly traded company to a private one owned solely by Musk, the world's richest person.

"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said in a statement.

He said he wanted to make the company better by adding "new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans."

In a tweet highlighting his statement, Musk celebrated the deal with heart, star and rocket emojis.

Twitter shares rose more than 6% in trading Monday.

Musk, who is also CEO of rocket developer SpaceX, has said Twitter needs to become a private company so that it can realize its potential for free speech. He has described himself as a "free-speech absolutist."

The businessman, who is a prolific tweeter with more than 83 million followers, tweeted earlier Monday, "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."

Critics of Musk's takeover of Twitter have expressed concerns that Musk would allow the platform to more easily spread disinformation and hate speech.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki declined to comment on the deal but said President Joe Biden has long been concerned about the power of social media platforms.

"Our concerns are not new," Psaki said, adding, "The president has long talked about his concerns about the power of social media platforms, including Twitter and others, to spread misinformation."

There are reforms that the White House thinks Congress could take to improve social media platforms, Psaki said.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said in a tweet Monday, "Twitter has a purpose and relevance that impacts the entire world."

"Deeply proud of our teams and inspired by the work that has never been more important," he added.

Musk's initial announcement earlier this month that he was seeking to buy Twitter prompted a negative response from the company, which began enacting an anti-takeover measure. But after Musk unveiled a financing package to back the acquisition, shareholders urged Twitter's board to reconsider

Musk has proposed relaxing Twitter's content restrictions, which could include rules that suspended former President Donald Trump's account.

Earlier Monday, Republicans cheered news that Musk was close to reaching a deal with Twitter.

"Hey, @elonmusk it's a great week to free @realDonaldTrump," tweeted the House Republican Conference.

Twitter banned Trump's account after the U.S. Capitol was stormed on January 6, 2021, citing a risk of more violence.

Trump told Fox News Monday that he would not return to Twitter even if his account was reinstated, saying that he is continuing his plan to launch his own Truth Social startup in the coming days.

"I hope Elon buys Twitter because he'll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth," Trump said.

Musk is the world's richest person, according to Forbes magazine, with a nearly $279 billion fortune.

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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