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Elon Musk, Twitter, and the possible effect on the MS community

By Mary Pettigrew

(Editor's note: This article represents the opinion of the author. MS Focus: the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation does not advocate or endorse any particular product, service, or website.)

Some of you may be wondering what Twitter has to do with MS. I’ll start by saying Twitter has been a lifeline for many of us in the MS and chronic illness community for years. In fact, Twitter was my starting point 13 years ago. Twitter was where I first found my MS community. 

Anyone who uses social media heard the breaking news on April 25 about billionaire Elon Musk’s official acquisition of Twitter, buying the social media platform at $54.20 a share, which values approximately at $44 billion dollars. Reactions have been varied throughout the world. Some users of the platform have already jumped ship while others are looking forward to the possible changes Musk has proposed moving forward. 

Many people in the MS and chronic illness community use a plethora of social media platforms to connect with others or for advocacy outreach and activism purposes. Some people prefer using Facebook over Twitter, while others prefer Twitter over Facebook. I happen to use both and have enjoyed doing so for years. 

Twitter has been a valuable tool for the MS community for several years. Whether it be participating in live chats, sharing information, articles and blogs, spreading awareness, or just connecting with other MS patients and organizations around the world, this is a platform many of us rely on. Some of us even receive compensation for the things we post on Twitter, so I do understand the questions and concerns in the coming days.

For those users who have already deleted their accounts or have decided they’re going to be doing in the near future, I wonder if this action is a bit hasty since nothing has officially happened yet. Yes, Twitter’s board has unanimously agreed to the sale, but the deal is not final yet. It still needs to be approved by all shareholders and is subjected to a regulatory review. The CEO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal has said he expects things to take some time and if all goes well, the deal will close sometime in the next three to six months. 

“Shareholders are going to have to look at whether or not they think this is the best deal they can get with Twitter or whether they can do better without Musk,” said Eleanor Bloxham, CEO of The Value Alliance. If shareholders accept the deal, they can sell their shares at $54.20 each or hold onto them until the day the company goes private. At that point, shares can be cashed out at current trading price.

So, what are some of the changes Musk has planned for Twitter?
  • Going private vs. public (Wall Street and ads)
  • Free speech – I’m okay with this except for misinformation, disinformation and scams related to healthcare and the like.
  • Loosening content moderation.
  • Extending length of characters per tweet – I’m okay with this per se.
  • Algorithm changes (tied in part to free speech)
  • Removing spam bots – I’m definitely on board with this change.
  • Adding an edit button – I’ve wanted this for years.

One thing is for sure, we don’t know what’s for sure. Therefore, let’s all just keep on keeping on and wait to see what happens over the next few months. We need to keep our platforms going and I hope others will feel the same.