Twitter’s newly minted owner, self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk, is about to take a crash course in global content moderation.

Among his first steps after completing a $44 billion takeover on Thursday was to fire the social media platform’s top management, including the woman in charge of trust and security on the platform, Vijaya Gade.

He also issued a conciliatory note to wary advertisers, assuring them that he would not allow Twitter to turn into a “free-for-all hellscape.”

The problem is not even that the richest man in the world can be in both directions.

Lightly moderated “free speech” sites like Gab and Parler serve as a cautionary tale what can happen when the fences are down. These small, niche sites are popular among conservatives and libertarians fed up with what they see as censorship of their viewpoints on mainstream platforms like Facebook. They are also full of Nazi imagery, racist slurs and other extreme content, including calls for violence.

Some conservative figures jumped on Twitter on Friday after the Musk takeover long-debunked conspiracy theories are circulating in an apparent attempt to check whether the site’s policy on misinformation is being followed.

Advertisers don’t want to advertise their products next to disturbing, racist, and hateful messages — and most people don’t want to waste their time in chaotic internet spaces being assaulted by racist and sexist trolls.

GM made the announcement on Friday would suspend Twitter advertising while it determines the direction of the platform under the Mask. But Lou Pascalis, former head of media at Bank of America, said Twitter’s most loyal advertisers, many Fortune 100 companies, believe in the platform and are unlikely to leave unless “some really nasty things happen.”

But not only advertising and jokes are at stake.

Eddie Perez, former head of Twitter’s civic integrity group, said Musk seems to think of Twitter as a digital public square where everyone has an equal voice. It’s a “whimsical idea for a modern version of a town square,” Perez said.

But that’s not how mainstream social media platforms work. Instead, they have become powerful tools of asymmetric warfare, with many of their users unaware that they are being manipulated by disinformation from nation states and bad domestic actors – many of whom possess significant resources.

“The danger here is that in the name of ‘free speech,’ Musk will turn back the clock and make Twitter a more powerful engine of hate, division and misinformation about elections, health policy and international affairs,” Paul said. Barrett, associate director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

While he was expected to reinstate banned accounts — from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green — Musk said Friday that no decisions on content or reinstatement would be made until a “content moderation board” is in place. The board, he wrote, would have “different perspectives,” but he did not provide any details.

Musk may be starting from scratch, but Twitter spent years building it content moderation system, which is still far from perfect. Thus, experts have expressed serious concerns about Musk’s efforts – after all, the Tesla CEO has little experience navigating the temperamental and geopolitical world of social networks, even if he is a regular and very popular user of the site he just bought.

“I’m most concerned about Musk’s decision to fire Vijay Gade, Twitter’s head of legal policy, trust and security — a senior executive who tried, albeit imperfectly, to keep the platform from spreading even more harmful content than it already is,” Barrett said.

Many are waiting to see if he will welcome back a number of influential conservative figures banned for violating Twitter’s rules – speculation that is only heightened by upcoming elections in Brazil, the US and elsewhere.

“I’ll be going into more detail today,” Musk tweeted early Friday in response to a conservative political podcaster who complained that the platform favored liberals and secretly undervalued conservative votes.

Former President Donald Trump, an avid tweeter before he was banned, said Friday that he was “very happy that Twitter is now in good hands” but promoted his own social media site, Truth Social, which he launched after it was blocked in a more widely used platform.

Trump was banned two days after the Jan. 6 attacks for a pair of tweets that the company said continued to question on the legitimacy of the presidential election and heightened risks to the presidential inauguration, which Trump has said he will not attend.

Another task for Musk: fulfilling its promise to clean up fake profilesor the “spambots” that occupied and plagued Twitter long before it expressed interest in acquiring it.

The number of bots matters because advertisers—Twitter’s main source of revenue—want to know roughly how many real people they’re reaching when they buy ads. It is also important to efforts to prevent malicious individuals from amassing an army of accounts to spread disinformation or harass political opponents.

Associated Press writers Frank Bajak, Jill Colvin and Mae Anderson contributed to this story. Follow AP coverage of Elon Musk: