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Elon Musk tells advertisers he doesn’t want Twitter to become ‘free-for-all hellscape’

<i>Susan Walsh/AP</i><br/>Elon Musk attempted to reassure Twitter's advertisers about the future of the platform in an open letter on October 27
Susan Walsh/AP
Elon Musk attempted to reassure Twitter's advertisers about the future of the platform in an open letter on October 27

By Clare Duffy, CNN Business

Elon Musk attempted to reassure Twitter’s advertisers about the future of the platform in an open letter Thursday, a day before his $44 billion takeover of the company is expected to be completed.

In a letter posted to Twitter, Musk said he doesn’t want the platform to become a “free-for-all-hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences,” despite his stated promise to rethink on its content moderation policies and bolster “free speech.”

Musk has said he plans to cut back on content restrictions and that he would reverse the permanent bans of accounts previously removed from the platform for repeatedly violating its rules, including former President Donald Trump. Those plans had raised questions about the potential impact on Twitter’s core ad sales business, as advertisers might flinch at having their paid posts appear alongside more controversial content.

Musk’s letter appears aimed at quelling those fears, which could impact the company’s core business. Twitter generated $4.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2021, nearly 89% of its total sales.

“In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences,” he said in the Thursday post. “Fundamentally, Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise … Let us build something extraordinary together.”

Musk has previously said he would seek to allow all legal speech on Twitter. Content rules vary across the world. In Europe, the new Digital Services Act imposes high moderation standards. Musk in May said he is “exactly aligned” with the new law.

The letter is the latest indication that the billionaire Tesla CEO is nearing completion of the Twitter acquisition after months of trying to get out of the deal. On Wednesday, Musk visited Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and spoke with employees, reportedly telling them he does not in fact plan to cut 75% of Twitter’s staff, despite prior reports.

Twitter’s Chief Customer Officer Sarah Personette responded to Musk’s Thursday tweet saying that she had a “great discussion” with Musk on Wednesday. “Our continued commitment to brand safety for advertisers remained unchanged,” Personette said. “Looking forward to the future!”

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that one ad buying agency had already received requests from about a dozen clients to pause their advertisements on Twitter if Musk restores Trump’s account, and other were considering doing the same.

Musk also reiterated in the letter a lofty earlier statement he had made that the Twitter acquisition is not meant to be a money-making venture for him.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk said.

Musk has previously suggested that he wants to increase Twitter’s subscription revenue to rely less on ads.

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