Last week, one of the most vocal critics of Twitter, Elon Musk, tweeted regarding free speech and its place in democracy, to which many of Musk’s conservative followers replied, “Buy Twitter.”
In true Elon Musk fashion, that’s exactly what the technology mogul did. On Monday, Musk purchased 73.5 million shares of Twitter stock, which is approximately 9.2 percent of the company. This makes Musk the “largest outside shareholder” of stock in the social media company. However, this is considered “passive” stock, and, according to Musk’s SEC filing, he cannot “be the beneficial owner” of over 14.9 percent of the company’s stock. In other words, this can’t be considered a “hostile takeover” of Twitter, although Musk is now sitting on the board of directors.
Musk’s purchase was valued at $2.89 billion.
As a member of the board of directors, Musk could have a significant impact on the social media company. Both Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter, and current CEO, Parag Agrawal, have expressed excitement about Musk joining the company’s board of directors. However, Musk is already promising big changes to the platform. He’s already created a poll regarding the proposition of an edit button. In the poll Musk created, he purposely misspelled “yse” and “on” – Agrawal replied under the poll “Please vote carefully.”
While both Dorsey and Agrawal have tweeted their support for Musk coming on board at Twitter, the embattled executives – who have sparred with conservatives across America regarding what some see as a limiting or censorship of speech – may realize that Musk means business. Just two weeks ago, Elon tweeted regarding Twitter “as the de facto public town square” and the platforms failure “to adhere to free speech principles” as something that is undermining American values. In one tweet, Elon posed the rhetorical question: “What should be done?” He also posited this question: “Do you (his followers) believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?”
It was after these tweets in particular that many of Musk’s 80 million followers, particularly those who are more conservative, began encouraging Musk to purchase Twitter. Musk himself has at times hinted creating his own social media platform.
While no one can say Musk is a through-and-through conservative, he is a hero in that community. He has gone several rounds with Senator Elizabeth Warren over his supposed failure to pay taxes, and he’s been openly critical of Joe Biden, particularly where rising fuel prices are concerned. Musk also followed through on a promise to send StarLink terminals to Ukraine in the wake of a Russian invasion into the country.
However, conservatives are in hopes that Musk will not only consider that edit button but that he’ll also consider reinstating President Donald Trump’s account. One such individual is Representative Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who is among several hoping that Musk will make good on his promises to promote truly free speech via Twitter. There is no certainty whether Trump would accept an invitation to come back to Twitter. Trump’s Truth Social launched last month, and the company is continuing to work through some issues while adding new members who feel shunned by other social media platforms.
Liberals, however, aren’t sure how to gauge Musk’s purchase of the large stake in Twitter. CNN’s Brian Stelter said “there’s a fear among liberals over Musk becoming Twitter’s largest shareholder.”
Musk may also reinstate the satirical website The Babylon Bee, whose account was suspended when they referred to transgender Biden official Rachel Levine as “man of the year.” Musk hasn’t made any public comments regarding the accounts of either Trump or The Babylon Bee.
Twitter has come under fire for the last eighteen months or so regarding what conservatives say is suppression of their thoughts and posts on the platform, while the company said it is working to stop spreading “misinformation.” Last year, Twitter censored The New York Post’s posting an article regarding the Hunter Biden laptop.
While it is uncertain exactly what Musk will do with his share in the company, Americans be certain that as long as Elon Musk is involved, things will definitely be interesting!