Elon Musk reportedly plans to become Twitter’s interim chief executive after buying platform – business live | Business


Top EU official: ‘In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules’

Amid fears that Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and his stance as a “free speech absolutist” could turn it into a platform for hate speech, Thierry Breton, the commissioner for internal market of the European Union, has weighed in.

Responding to Musk’s tweet, he said:

He used the the hashtag DSA – a reference to the Digital Services Act, one of two new packages of EU legislation designed to tighten regulation of social media.

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and lead Brexit negotiator for the EU, now leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament, says:

So one man @elonmusk now owns the biggest debate in the world…

The need for rules and accountability is bigger than ever !

Self-regulation in social media has never worked… even with lesser characters than his pic.twitter.com/h7LYYxVo4W

— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) October 28, 2022

Key events

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Here’s some analysis of Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter by my colleagues Kari Paul and Alex Hern:

Hate speech and misinformation experts are bracing for the return of Donald Trump to the platform, as Elon Musk completes his acquisition of Twitter.

The social media site permanently removed Trump in January 2021, saying the former president’s tweets were “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021”.

However, earlier this year Musk said he would reverse that ban, calling Twitter “left-biased”, and on Thursday he reportedly sacked the executive responsible.

“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” the Tesla CEO told a Financial Times conference in May. “I think that was a mistake. It alienated the country and did not result in Donald Trump not having a voice. I think it was a morally bad decision and foolish in the extreme.”

Eliot Higgins, founder and creative director of Bellingcat, the Netherlands-based investigative journalism group, says Twitter’s failure to self-regulate would lead to tighter government rules for all social media firms.

A lack of self-regulation on Twitter will just increase the likelihood of government regulation of all social media, it’s as simple as that.

— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) October 28, 2022

Has there been an explanation to why suddenly follower counts on lots of account dropped overnight? Twitter getting in some bans before the Musk era begins?

— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) October 28, 2022

In 2007, Bobbie Johnson, former Guardian technology correspondent in London, tried to answer the question many in the UK were asking about the new ‘micro-blogging’ site from the US that was creating huge amounts of buzz: “What is Twitter, and is there any reason I should care?”

In his piece for the paper’s technology supplement (unearthed by Jason Rodrigues of the Guardian’s research & information department), he said of Twitter: “On first glance it is a baffling and seemingly pointless service – but underneath it proves intriguing, useful and addictive for those who live on the move”. You can read the full article here:

From the archive.
From the archive. Photograph: The Guardian , 15 March 2007/The Guardian

Ironically, the debate about the future of Twitter following its acquisition by the world’s richest man Elon Musk is being conducted on the social media platform – where else?

The American lawyer Tristan Snell tweeted this morning:

People are not leaving Twitter in droves. The drops in follower count are happening in sudden chunks — it’s bot cleanup, not actual people quitting.

— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) October 28, 2022

Top EU official: ‘In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules’

Amid fears that Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and his stance as a “free speech absolutist” could turn it into a platform for hate speech, Thierry Breton, the commissioner for internal market of the European Union, has weighed in.

Responding to Musk’s tweet, he said:

He used the the hashtag DSA – a reference to the Digital Services Act, one of two new packages of EU legislation designed to tighten regulation of social media.

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and lead Brexit negotiator for the EU, now leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament, says:

So one man @elonmusk now owns the biggest debate in the world…

The need for rules and accountability is bigger than ever !

Self-regulation in social media has never worked… even with lesser characters than his pic.twitter.com/h7LYYxVo4W

— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) October 28, 2022

The American multi-media journalist and novelist David Leavitt says:

There’s a massive flood of literally hundreds of people each minute using the N word and rampant hate speech happening on Twitter right now post Elon purchase pic.twitter.com/uAqnZJuwjW

— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) October 28, 2022

If you type the n word or Holocaust into the search bar then click latest you can view and report racists that have come out of the woodwork after Elon Musk bought twitter in real time.

But will Twitter do anything about it?

— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) October 28, 2022

How have Twitter users reacted? The Guardian’s Matthew Cantor in San Francisco has taken a look.

Richard Murphy, economic justice campaigner and professor of accounting practice at Sheffield University, says:

Elon Musk has now bought Twitter. Am I pleased? No. Am I going elsewhere, as yet? No, of course not. Three reasons. 1) Twitter can already be nasty 2) The far-right already use it. 3) The arguments are, right now, bigger than the media delivering them. But let’s see what happens.

— Richard Murphy (@RichardJMurphy) October 28, 2022

And here’s a selection of ‘the best tweets of all time’.

Former City analyst Louise Cooper, now a senior lecturer in finance at Kingston University Business School, tweets:

Elon Musk overpaid massively for an asset he didn’t even want to buy.
Appalling market timing (started buying Twitter in jan at peak of market, tech stocks down 32% since)
Appalling decision making
$44bn is a lot of money.
Is this a turning point in his so far meteoric rise?

— Louise Cooper CFA (@Louiseaileen70) October 28, 2022

It’s been a terrible week for Big Tech, with results from Google parent Alphabet, Facebook owner Meta, and Amazon spooking investors and triggering a selloff of technology stocks. Meta shares crashed almost 25% on Thursday, while Amazon fell 20% in after-hours trading.

More reaction from Peter Vidlicka, co-founder of the free PR platform Newspage.

The bird may have been freed but the focus now is on how it behaves, as a songbird or the social media equivalent of a raptor.

Musk’s immediate firing of several of the senior management team is standard operating procedure in many regards but also proof positive that he has new ideas for the direction of one of the world’s leading social media platforms.

All eyes are now on the potential return of Trump. That’s the ultimate litmus test for Twitter moving forward. Will Musk stand by his word and let Trump back onto the platform or cave to the demands of the corporate world?

Advertisers globally will be monitoring events closely and assessing whether the new form Twitter takes remains a viable marketing option.

Elon Musk describes himself as a free speech absolutist, so in the current socio-cultural climate, we can expect fireworks in the months ahead.

To many, Musk’s acquisition of Twitter will be seen as a cultural stand, a reinforcement of free speech and a much-needed authentication of everyday people and their everyday views.

To others, there is a fine line between free speech and hate speech and many are concerned that Twitter under Musk could become an even wilder West than it already is.

When Musk paid a visit to Twitter’s headquarters on Wednesday, he posted a video of himself in the company’s San Francisco lobby carrying a sink.

“Entering Twitter HQ – let that sink in!” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Musk also changed his Twitter profile to refer to himself as “Chief Twit” and his location as Twitter headquarters.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at the trading platform interactive investor, said:

On Thursday, he took over the social media site following an elongated process full of twist and turns in true unpredictable Elon Musk style. Musk has already sacked CEO Parag Agrawal and CFO Ned Segal who he had been in a dispute with over the deal. He also wants to slim down its 7,500 workforce, leaving employees, many of whom are already uncomfortable about the deal, now also feeling unsafe in their seats.

Musk’s leadership is likely to bring about a strategic U-turn for Twitter, switching the company’s focus from tackling trolls, fake news and conspiracy spreading as well as encouraging healthy content sharing, towards Musk’s free speech above everything mentality instead. Donald Trump for example who was banned for violating Twitter rules, could be invited back onto the platform.

Shares in Twitter have outperformed this year, buoyed by the takeover saga, but they may not be tradable on the public markets for much longer if Musk delivers on his desire to take Twitter private. He has long had an issue with the regulatory hurdles and periodic announcements required of a public company and its leadership. As Tesla’s CEO he once tweeted about taking the automaker private without following regulatory protocol, much to the dismay of the SEC.

Donald Trump, currently banned from Twitter, could make a comeback under the new regime. Twitter banned Trump days after the 2021 Capitol insurrection, citing the “risk of further incitement of violence”.

Elon Musk has claimed he has “acquired Twitter” in a post to the social network reassuring advertisers it will stay a safe place for their brands, amid fears one of his first actions as chief executive will be to restore Donald Trump’s account, writes our UK technology editor Alex Hern.

And here’s an explainer about what Musk might do with Twitter.

European shares slide, euro falls through parity with dollar

European stock markets have followed in Asia’s footsteps and opened lower. The FTSE 100 index in London has been dragged lower by NatWest, the top faller, down 7.4%.

  • UK’s FTSE 100 index down 66 points, or 0.9%, at 7,007

  • Germany’s Dax down 103 points, or 0.8%, at 13,106

  • France’s CAC down 37 points, or 0.6%, at 6,207

  • Italy’s FTSE MiB down 279 points, or 1.2%, at 22,312

In Asia, Hong Kong stocks fell to their lowest levels since 2009. The Hang Seng index tumbled more than 4%, dragged down by technology stocks. Japan’s Nikkei dropped 0.9%.

On the currency markets, the pound is trading 0.4% lower versus the dollar, at $1.1513. The euro has fallen through parity with the dollar, slipping 0.16% to $0.9946, a day after the European Central Bank hiked interest rates but appeared fairly dovish.

Elon Musk wants to become interim CEO at Twitter – report

Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, wants to lead Twitter as chief executive, at least in the interim, Bloomberg is reporting.

Elon Musk plans to assume the role of chief executive at the social media group after completing his $44bn acquisition, on top of leading the electric carmaker Tesla and the spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX.

Musk intends to replace Parag Agrawal, who was fired along with other major executives upon completion of the takeover, Bloomberg said, citing a person familiar with the matter said. The billionaire is expected to remain CEO in the interim but may eventually cede the role in the longer term. Twitter declined to comment.

Musk waves during news conference at SpaceX Starbase in Brownsville, Texas.
Musk waves during news conference at SpaceX Starbase in Brownsville, Texas. Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone thanked the three executives for their contribution to the company. There’s been no word so far from Jack Dorsey, the better-known founder who stepped down as chief executive last year to focus on cryptocurrencies.

Introduction: NatWest reports £1.1bn profit; Elon Musk says he has bought Twitter and ‘bird is freed’

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of business, the world economy and the financial markets.

After months of legal back-and-forth, Elon Musk tweeted “the bird is freed” as he appears to have completed his $44bn takeover of Twitter, taking control of the company and firing several of the top executives including CEO Parag Agrawal.

NatWest has reported flat quarterly profits of £1.1bn this morning as the economic outlook worsened. It is the last of Britain’s ‘big four’ banks to announce results this week: Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC all reported strong profits alongside higher bad loan charges.

The pretax profit for the three months to September was slightly less than the £1.2bn forecast by analysts, and unchanged from last year.

The bank benefited from rising interest rates which pushed up income, but set aside an extra £247m to cover bad debts in light of the worsening economic outlook.

Alison Rose, the chief executive, said:

At a time of increased economic uncertainty, we are acutely aware of the challenges that people, families and businesses are facing up and down the country. Although we are not yet seeing signs of heightened financial distress, we are very conscious of the growing concerns of our customers and we are closely monitoring any changes to their finances or behaviours.

Asian shares slipped and the Japanese yen fell after the Bank of Japan stuck to ultra-low interest rates and maintained its dovish guidance, bucking the tightening trend among central banks around the world. But the BOJ revised its price forecasts higher through 2024 and warned that inflationary pressures were broadening. It said:

The labour market will continue to tighten and gradually strengthen wage pressure.

An ugly week of Big Tech earnings is also coming to an end, having wiped out hopes of seeing earnings boost gains across the stock markets,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote.

On Thursday, Facebook owner Meta plunged nearly 25%, dragging down the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which fell 1.9%. Amazon also lost in after hours trading after disappointing numbers and the shares are likely to fall when Wall Street opens later today.

Amazon shares dropped close to 20% in after-hours trading after the company said its all-important holiday shopping season would be smaller than expected. It made a profit of $2.9bn after two quarters of losing money. But it was Amazon’s guidance on the holiday quarter that worried investors.

Apple’s quarterly earnings on Thursday revealed that the company is weathering the ongoing tech downturn better than its competitors, reporting revenue and profit that topped Wall Street targets.

The Agenda

  • 7.45am BST: France inflation preliminary for October (forecast: 5.7%)

  • 8am BST: Spain GDP flash for Q3 (forecast: 0.3%, previous: 1.5%)

  • 8am BST: Spain inflation preliminary for October (forecast: 8%, previous: 8.9%)

  • 9am BST: Germany GDP flash for Q3 (forecast: 0.8%; previous: 1.7%)

  • 10am BST: Eurozone consumer confidence final for October (forecast: -27.6)

  • 10am BST: Italy inflation for October (forecast 9.6%, previous: 8.9%)

  • 1pm BST: Germany inflation preliminary for October (forecast: 10.1%, previous: 10%)

  • 1.30pm BST: US Core PCE Price index for September (forecast: 5.2%, previous: 4.9%)

  • 3pm BST: US Michigan Consumer sentiment final for October (forecast: 59.8)





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