Elon Musk’s vision of taking the guardrails off Twitter Inc.’s content moderation is lauded by free speech absolutists, but it risks creating a free-for-all that alienates advertisers and leaves regular users subject to abuse.

Musk lobbed his $43 billion takeover offer for Twitter with the intent of unlocking its potential to be the “platform for free speech around the globe.” He added that “free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”

But a website with little content moderation would be a concern for advertisers who are brand conscious and wouldn’t want their adds to show up next to controversial posts. Regular people also could be turned off from the site if it was overrun with harassers or conspiracy theorists.

“The underlying concern would be that Twitter could become a toxic place and a toxic community,” said Joshua Lowcock, global chief media officer at media agency UM Worldwide.

Twitter, like other social media platforms, is highly reliant on advertising, which accounted for close to 90% of its $5.1 billion in revenue in 2021.

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