Not too long ago, billionaire businessman Elon Musk began criticizing social giant Twitter. The Tesla founder mulled the increasingly hostile environment of the network. He polled his followers, asking them if they think Twitter defends free speech. Over seventy percent of the 2 million+ responders said no. Musk himself seemed to be considering building his own social network that better supported users’ free speech.
This is only a chapter in the ongoing saga of social media censorship. Since around 2016, social giants have tried to aggressively control their users’ content. In some cases, these networks have silenced or banned users, based on their political views. It’s become so common, that many users have abandoned sites like Twitter and Facebook because they believe their speech was infringed upon.
Now, a new story is developing, as Elon Musk becomes Twitter’s largest shareholder.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has questioned Twitter’s commitment to free speech, has taken a 9% stake in the social media platform, making him its largest shareholder.
Musk bought 73.5 million shares worth $2.9 billion, based on the closing price Friday, the Associated Press reported Monday…
Musk has previously considered starting a social media network to rival Twitter and has frequently clashed with financial regulators about his use of the platform, with the issue now in court.
Dan Ives, of Wedbush Securities, said in a client note early Monday that his firm would expect Musk’s “passive stake” in the platform is “just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake and a potential more aggressive ownership role,” the wire service also reports.
After publicly questioning Twitter’s attempts at censorship, Elon Musk bought a 9% stake in the social giant. He spent a reported $2.9 billion to acquire 73.5 million shares. He currently owns more stock in the company than co-founder Jake Dorsey. But what does this mean, in light of his recent comments?
Was Musk simply criticizing Twitter, to lower its value? Did he always plan to purchase stock in the company? Does he still plan on creating his own social network and this is a way of “controlling” the competition? Or is this the first step in Musk having a large role in deciding Twitter’s (and by extension other social networks’) future?
It’s possible Musk realized that, instead of building his own network, he could just take over another. Perhaps he is trying to establish an “active stake” to end Twitter’s tainted history of censorship? We can’t be sure, but this is certainly an unexpected development.
The future of American democracy rests on our ability to exercise the First Amendment. But thanks to Twitter and other social giants, millions of Americans have been silenced. Perhaps Musk is just the man to turn that tide? We’ll have to wait and see.