Former Disney CEO canceled Twitter takeover due to moderation problems and bots

Former Disney CEO Bob Iger says in an interview that Disney had wanted to take over Twitter, but canceled it at the last minute due to possible problems with content moderation and the large number of bots on the platform. The talks ran in 2016.

Iger said according to Vox during an interview at Code Conference that the deal was all but closed, but Disney dropped it anyway because of those problems. “You have to look at all the hate speech and opportunity to do both evil and good on the platform. At Disney, we try to produce fun and to do nothing but good. This was something we weren’t ready to tackle and I I wasn’t willing to take on something like that as a director of a company and I think it would have been irresponsible.”

Besides the hate speech, Disney calculated that many users were not real. “At that point, we calculated with the help of Twitter that a substantial part, but certainly not the majority, of users were bots.”

The discussion about bots on Twitter is topical, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to refrain from taking over Twitter due to the higher number of bots than Twitter would have said there were. Musk announced this spring that he plans to acquire Twitter for $44 billion. He changed his mind a few months later.

Disney wanted to take over Twitter as the distribution platform for its then-upcoming streaming service, now known as Disney+. According to Iger, Twitter was relatively cheap to take over. Disney was not the only candidate for an acquisition of Twitter in 2016. Google and Salesforce would also have been interested. Ultimately, none of those acquisitions went through and Twitter remained independent.