San Francisco: Elon Musk's vow to let everyone say whatever they want on Twitter after his takeover of the social media giant could put the onus on users to combat bullying and misinformation on the platform, experts say.
Details of Musk's plans for Twitter were slim after his deal to buy the tech firm was announced Monday, but the Tesla chief portrays himself as a free-speech absolutist.
But the privatisation of Twitter with Musk as its master has raised concerns from analysts and activists that the site will be capriciously ruled by the world's richest man, with more focus on attention and profit than on promoting healthy online conversations, which has been a priority at the service.
For Syracuse University assistant professor of communications law Kyla Garrett-Wagner, Musk's takeover of Twitter is not a free speech rights victory.
"What we have done is put even more power into fewer hands," she told AFP.
"If Elon Musk decides tomorrow that he wants to shut Twitter down for a week, he can do that."
She noted the US Constitution's first amendment only bars governments from gagging what citizens say - leaving the billionaire entrepreneur the power to decide what can and cannot be posted on the private entity of Twitter.
"This is not the street corner," Garrett-Wagner said. "This is the proverbial Wild West but owned by a minority elite that doesn't represent minority voices."
'The trolls take over'
Musk's promised hands-off approach to content is a particularly thorny matter when it comes to high-profile cases like that of former US president Donald Trump, who was banned from Twitter after an assault on the Capitol by his supporters.
"Musk says he is going to turn Twitter into a social media platform with no moderation; there have been several of those and they don't work," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group.
"The trolls take over, they get too hostile and drive people away from the platform."
Musk has said he is averse to banning people from Twitter due to misbehavior, prompting speculation that he would lift Trump's ban.
But Trump on Monday said he would not be returning to Twitter even if his account were reinstated, saying he would stick to his own site, Truth Social.