• Musk struck a deal Monday to purchase Twitter for $44 billion
  • Parag Agrawal said the company’s direction is uncertain
  • Concerns have been raised about hate speech and harassment possibly being exploited through Twitter

Tech billionaire Elon Musk has tweeted his plans for turning Twitter into a platform for “free speech,” but during a town hall meeting with employees Monday, CEO Parag Agrawal alluded to the uncertainty that comes with the company’s private takeover.

In a statement Monday – on the same day Musk struck a deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion – the SpaceX founder laid out his plans for the social media site. “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,” he said. Musk went on to note that he will implement changes such as “making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

Earlier Monday, Musk tweeted that he hopes even his “worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.” His tweet came after Rep. Pramila Japayal, D-Wash., tweeted that it was “absurd that one person can afford to buy Twitter for more than $40 billion while working families across this country have to choose” daily whether to buy prescription drugs or groceries.

As the Tesla CEO went on to champion free speech through his Twitter account, Agrawal said during a company-wide town hall meeting that was heard by Reuters that he was unsure of the company’s direction after the Musk deal closes. “Once the deal closes, we don’t know which direction the platform will go,” Agrawal said when answering a question regarding former President Donald Trump’s permanently suspended account.

Agrawal also noted that other questions will be addressed in a staff question-and-answer session that Musk will join in the future, but he assured employees that there were no plans for layoffs at the moment.

Trump told Fox News earlier Monday that he will not rejoin Twitter even if he knows Musk will establish improvements to the platform. The former president said he will stick with his own platform, Truth Social, which is only available for U.S. users as of writing.

Experts expressed their thoughts on the takeover, with Jessica Melugin, the Director of the Center for Technology and Innovation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, saying that the deal meant either Twitter will resolve free speech issues or the platform will transform into “an unusable hellscape” of divisive content, Forbes reported.

Ron Bradley, the Vice President of third-party risk management group Shared Assessments, said he supports “the intent to enhance authentication on the Twitter platform,” noting that “this change can’t come soon enough and will greatly impact spam bots and other modes of false information.”

There have also been concerns about a Musk-led Twitter potentially opening more mediums users who want to use the platform for harassment or hate speech directed toward minority populations, Politico reported.

Musk said at a TED conference last week that offensive tweets should stay on Twitter as long as they’re legal, NPR reported. “If it’s a gray area, let the tweet exist,” he said at the conference.

Under the deal, Musk will make Twitter private, which means the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will have less financial oversight over the platform and Twitter can become more difficult for lawmakers to regulate due to the semi-transparent nature of private-owned companies.

Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion raises concerns the platform will be subject to the capricious rule of the world's richest person.
Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion raises concerns the platform will be subject to the capricious rule of the world's richest person. POOL via AFP / Patrick Pleul