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The platform’s board of directors gave up its opposition to the Musk takeover attack after just a few days and approved a deal. The Tesla boss didn’t even have to raise the offer: It was enough to put financing commitments of more than $46.5 billion on the table. Now enough Twitter shareholders have to sell their shares to Musk for him to take control.
Musk already has a good 9 percent and that’s enough to get him past the 50 percent mark. Because unlike Google or Facebook’s Meta group, Twitter’s founders and top managers don’t have shares with more voting rights that can secure their control over the company. Twitter and Musk gave themselves until the end of the year to finalize the sale.
What does the boss of an electric car manufacturer, a space company and a brain implant developer want from Twitter? How will the service, which has become a kind of nervous system of the news industry, change since it is privately owned? Who can make sure Musk doesn’t use Twitter for his business interests? Without the transparency of stock market reports, will it be possible to know how Twitter makes its money and if the business is doing well? These are all questions for which there are no reliable answers.
Musk made a big noise in his explanations of the takeover campaign. It’s not about money, it’s about strengthening freedom of expression on the platform, he said. That is only possible if the short message service exits the stock market. Musk described his idea of free speech as follows: “If someone you don’t like can say something you don’t like.” All opinions must be allowed within the law. Twitter with free speech is important for democracy and minimizes risks to civilization, he said.
Now, however, it is the case that two groups in particular have complained particularly loudly about the so-called “censorship” on Twitter: people whose posts were being criticized for incorrect or misleading information about the coronavirus and supporters of the former president Donald Trump. , who did not readily claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Applause poured from the camps for Musk’s vision.
Others sounded the alarm. Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter: “This deal is dangerous to our democracy. Billionaires like Elon Musk play by different rules than everyone else.” The civil rights organization ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) was also concerned: although Musk is a member and one of the most important supporters, it is “very dangerous to put so much power in the hands of one person.” Musk used the criticism to demonstrate his approach: “I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that’s what free speech means.”
A few days ago, former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos, who knows how much posts on online platforms need to be filtered, warned against a fully allowed setting. You add no value to a platform by filling it 99.9 percent with porn and ads for fake-brand sunglasses and erectile dysfunction drugs, he wrote on Twitter.
The human rights organization NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) tried to convey to Musk its view of limits on expression: “Freedom of expression is wonderful, hate speech is unacceptable.” There is also no place on Twitter for false information. NAACP Chairman Derrick Johnson specifically appealed to Musk not to allow Trump back on the platform. “Life is in danger, and so is our American democracy.” President Joe Biden’s White House is also concerned that Trump could reappear on Musk’s Twitter ahead of this fall’s midterm elections and the 2024 presidential election, CNBC television reported.
Trump was kicked off Twitter after expressing sympathy for his supporters who stormed the Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. Management has so far emphasized that there is no way for him to return to the platform. Musk might look at it another way: He sees temporary “waiting times” as better than permanent exclusions, the Tesla boss said at large. In the early days of the pandemic, Musk downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus, describing the restrictions in California as “fascist.”
In any case, Trump himself told Fox News that he didn’t want to go back to Twitter, even if he could. Instead, the former president is building his own Twitter alternative called Truth Social, which has led a grim existence until now.
While Musk won’t be liable to anyone as the owner of Twitter, he still has to pay off the debt needed to complete the Twitter deal. The 50-year-old put forward loan commitments of more than $25.5 billion and also wants to bring in shares worth around $21 billion. Musk is by far the richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of around $257 billion. However, his wealth consists almost entirely of shares in Tesla and his space company SpaceX, so he has to resort to credit for a Twitter purchase.
It will have a platform for this, which has never been able to turn its importance to politics and the media into as lucrative a business as, say, Facebook. Twitter made $5 billion in sales last year and posted a final loss of $221.4 million. One of Musk’s ideas for Twitter is that a subscription model would ensure independence from large corporations better than the current advertising business. But it is doubtful that enough users are willing to pay money to use Twitter.
Wall Street Journal: Musk stabs hornet nest
The “Wall Street Journal” comments on the probable acquisition of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk:
“What a gamble for Musk, who says he can unlock value on Twitter that the current leadership can’t (unlock). (…) If Musk can find a more satisfying balance in content moderation, he may be right about the value.” hidden from Twitter. .(…) Moving back a few notches on the moderation dial could encourage broader engagement, but be prepared for progressives to clamor.
One start could be to break up what appears to be a monoculture at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. Perhaps Musk will move the company to Texas like he did with Tesla. How many Twitter programmers have been to a rodeo? Musk may also have functional changes in mind, such as longer tweets. (…) Does Musk realize that he is stabbing a wasp nest? Will his vision work? who knows. But it will be fascinating to see how Musk seeks to disrupt Silicon Valley’s creeping conformity culture.”
Twitter shares closed in New York on Monday at $51.88 (+5.62 percent), so investors still have some doubts.
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