The American people have been fed up with Big Tech abuses for nearly two years. Since the origin of the Covid pandemic, followed by the contested 2020 election, and now the Russia-Ukraine war, tech giants have acted like everyone’s personal editors instead of digital and social media platforms.
Elon Musk may help put an end to some of that chicanery, at least on one social media platform. The billionaire Tesla founder and CEO will be joining Twitter’s board of governors after becoming the company’s largest shareholder on early Monday.
JUST IN – Elon Musk to join #Twitter's board of directors.
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) April 5, 2022
“JUST IN – Elon Musk to join #Twitter‘s board of directors,” Disclose reported.
Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal and Elon Musk confirmed that he is joining the board and released a statement.
Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
“I’m excited to share that we’re appointing Elon Musk to our board!” Agrawal said. “Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board.”
“Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!” Musk replied.
Musk had recently proposed that Twitter add an ‘edit’ button, which for some reason concerned people he might not necessarily be a warrior for free speech.
Do you want an edit button?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
“Do you want an edit button?” he asked.
We don't need superficial improvements like an edit button – we need Twitter to stop targeting conservative free speech and interfering in our elections.
— Catturd ™ (@catturd2) April 5, 2022
“We don’t need superficial improvements like an edit button – we need Twitter to stop targeting conservative free speech and interfering in our elections,” popular anonymous user Catturd replied.
Bring Trump back
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) April 5, 2022
“Bring Trump back,” Comfortably Smug added.
Parag is the first one who’s gotta go, if this is to be a true free platform.
— David Reaboi, Late Republic Nonsense (@davereaboi) April 5, 2022
“Parag is the first one who’s gotta go, if this is to be a true free platform,” David Reaboi argued.
The only improvement we need is our FREE SPEECH BACK!
— Lavern Spicer🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@lavern_spicer) April 5, 2022
“The only improvement we need is our FREE SPEECH BACK!” Lavern Spicer said.
However, Elon Musk earlier asked Twitter “What should be done?” in the fight to defend free speech from Big Tech censorship and suppression.
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted. “What should be done?”
Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.
What should be done? https://t.co/aPS9ycji37
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2022
He had polled users and found that over 70% believed that Twitter fails to adhere to free speech principles. Users regaled the Tesla CEO with their own experiences of Twitter suppression and censorship, including tweets on the 2020 election and the Covid pandemic.
The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2022
“The consequences of this poll will be important,” he added. “Please vote carefully.”
It turns out he wasn’t bluffing.
On Monday, it was revealed that Elon Musk had purchased a 9.2% stake in Twitter worth nearly $3 billion. The details were provided by CNBC:
- Musk owns 73,486,938 shares of Twitter, which represents a 9.2% passive stake in the company, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission 13G filing released Monday.
- The stake is worth $2.89 billion, based Twitter’s closing price on Friday.
- The Musk buy comes less than two weeks after Musk criticized the company, polling people on Twitter about whether Twitter adheres to free speech principles.
CNBC’s business analysts believe that Musk’s move to buy the stake could lead to an eventual buyout, because “investors were bidding shares higher on the chance this could lead to something more.” Twitter shares had already surged more than 25% in the premarket — a sign that Musk’s buying of a stake inspired confidence in users and investors.
“Musk could try to take a more aggressive stance here on Twitter,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said Monday told CNBC. “This eventually could lead to some sort of buyout.”
“This makes sense given what Musk has at least been talking about, at least from a social media perspective,” Ives said.
Musk may indeed be testing the waters at Twitter. There is no need to cause a complete meltdown at a company he just bought a large state in. But his remarks in the build-up to his stake acquisition suggest this was just a warning shot to big tech: Stop censoring Americans or you could be next.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.