Elon Musk to buy Twitter for $44B and take it private

(AP) - Elon Musk reached an agreement to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion on Monday, promising a more lenient touch to policing content on

the social media platform where he — the world’s richest person — promotes his interests, attacks critics and opines on a wide range of issues to more than 83 million followers.

The outspoken Tesla CEO has said he wanted to own and privatize Twitter because he thinks it’s not living up to its potential as a platform for free speech.

Musk said in a joint statement with Twitter that he wants to make the service “better than ever” with new features while getting rid of automated “spam’' accounts and

“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,”

the 50-year-old Musk said, adding hearts, stars and rocket emojis in a tweet that highlighted the statement.

The more hands-off approach to content moderation that Musk envisions has many users concerned that the platform will become more of a haven for disinformation

, hate speech and bullying, something it has worked hard in recent years to mitigate. Wall Street analysts said if he goes too far, it could also alienate advertisers.

The deal was cemented roughly two weeks after the billionaire first revealed a 9% stake in the platform. Musk said last week that he had lined up $46.5 billion in financing to buy Twitter,