One of Big Tech’s most troubling platforms for suppressing conservative viewpoints may have just received a big free speech shot in the arm, as billionaire Elon Musk has purchased 9.2% of Twitter’s stock for a cool $3 billion, making him the largest stockholder in the company. Musk has also been given a seat on the company’s board and is already vowing changes to the social media giant.
“Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!” Musk tweeted early on April 5.”
Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
“Parag” in Musk’s tweet is Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief executive, who tweeted his own welcome message to Musk.
“I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board,” Agrawal said.
In reaching an agreement with Twitter that earned him a position on Twitter’s board of directors, Musk agreed to purchase no more than 14.9% of the company’s shares.
Agrawal also noted that Musk is not entirely a fan of Twitter’s policies when it comes to free speech.
“He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!” Agrawal tweeted.
He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) April 5, 2022
Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter along with Agrawal, also welcomed Musk, tweeting, “I’m really happy Elon is joining the Twitter board! He cares deeply about our world and Twitter’s role in it. Parag and Elon both lead with their hearts, and they will be an incredible team.”
Dorsey resigned as Twitter’s CEO in November 2021 and now heads up Block, Inc., a merchant-payment services business.
The sentiment expressed in the welcome messages from Twitter’s co-founders is not universally shared by Twitter’s employees, many of whom relish the platform’s leftward leanings and tendency to suppress posts and ban posters with a conservative viewpoint.
One employee, Jackson Mulholland, upon hearing the news about Musk, announced his resignation via a tweet.
“My name is Jackson Mulholland & I’m one of many ppl here working at @Twitter in charge of developing terms & conditions for users. We’re not stripping away ‘free speech’, we’re protecting users from bullies, bigots, & spam. I refuse to work with or for @elonmusk. I’m resigning,” he wrote.
Journalist Any Ngo has collected similar Twitter employee reactions on this thread.
Of course, the problem with Twitter’s policies relating to speech it considers “bullying” is that in practice it has been merely a pretext for suppressing factual statements as well as conservative viewpoints. Twitter’s Dorsey has been summoned to testify before Congress on several occasions to respond to such charges.
At The Daily Citizen, we’ve experienced Twitter’s suppression of speech firsthand after being locked out of the platform for posting a story describing President Biden’s nomination of Dr. Rachel Levine, a man who believes he is a woman, to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services in January 2021.
And Musk has been vocal in his complaints about Twitter’s leftist censorship, even to the point of hinting that he may start his own competing social media platform.
“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy,” Musk tweeted to his 80 million followers on March 25. “Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” He followed up with “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”
Approximately 70% of the roughly two million people who responded to Musk’s question voted no.
Wall Street investors welcomed the news of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter stock. Twitter shares rose 27% on Monday, April 4, upon news of Musk’s purchase, and gained another 5% the following day.
Musk, the world’s richest person, is the 50-year-old chief executive of Tesla, Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX. His net worth is a reported $290 billion. With Musk’s appointment, Twitter’s board will now have 12 members.
Photo from Reuters.