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Experts see harsh realities ahead for Musk at Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Tesla boss Elon Musk’s road to turning Twitter into a money-making platform where anyone can say anything looks to experts like a tough one.

Musk’s USD44-billion deal to buy the global messaging platform must still get the backing of shareholders and regulators. And while Musk has not revealed nitty-gritty details of how he would run the business side of Twitter, he has voiced enthusiasm for dialling back content moderation to a legal minimum and making money from subscriptions.

“Other than advocating free speech, Musk hasn’t articulated a vision of what the platform can be,” Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi told AFP.

“He hasn’t said if Twitter has an age issue, a geographic skew, who is the biggest competitor – what else he is thinking.”

Musk’s talk of doing away with Twitter’s advertising model for revenue, relying instead on subscriptions, does not appear feasible, Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian said in a note to investors.

Tesla boss Elon Musk. PHOTO: AP

“Elon Musk has floated the idea of ditching the ad revenue model,” Sebastian said.

“We struggle to believe this will happen altogether, unless he plans to fund interest payments on debt out of his own pocket.”

Analysts doubt that Twitter users would flock to pay for premium content or features such as retweeting posts when social media platforms such as Facebook are free of charge. Musk could try selling posts or asking other websites to pay for anything they use from tweets.

Musk’s proclaimed stance as a free speech absolutist also promises to undermine the advertising on which Twitter currently depends for revenue.