Tesla CEO Twitter takeover will have disastrous consequences for free speech


Raquel Camilo | Flickr

Patryk Sikora

Tesla CEO Elon Musk struck a deal on April 25 to purchase Twitter for nearly $44 billion, meaning the world’s richest man will now also be the owner of an incredibly influential social media platform.

Musk tends to approach the platform like an angsty teen, using memes and one-liners to interact with his adversaries. He demonstrates a childlike understanding of the free speech issue that big players from Silicon Valley have been struggling to grasp for years.

The ability to manipulate markets, shape political discourse and harass adversaries freely is way too much power for the richest man in the world to purchase on a whim. This trade should be immediately blocked by whatever legal means necessary.

Musk’s Twitter takeover began when it was revealed that he was the company’s biggest shareholder with a 9.2% stake.

After some confusion about Musk’s presence on Twitter’s board, he declared his intent to buy the company at a premium and secured funding a few days after.

More recently, a deal has been struck between Musk and Twitter which entailed that the Tesla CEO acquire the social media company for  $44 billion.

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission will likely do little to block this acquisition as Musk is not purchasing one of his competitors. However, there should still be an effort made to stop the trade, as the consequences could be world-wide and catastrophic.

Although Twitter is far from being the biggest social media platform, it is one of the most politically influential.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Ron DeSantis both seemingly endorsed the move via Twitter while Musk ripped into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a now deleted exchange, in which the representative claimed to be tired of having “to collectively stress about what explosion of hate crimes is happening bc some billionaire with an ego problem unilaterally controls a massive communication platform.”

In a few months, Musk will have the ability to remove critics such as Ocasio-Cortez from the platform just for publicly opposing his actions. Though it is unclear whether he will wield this power, it is worrying to even think that he has it.

Twitter has undoubtedly become a political battleground. With elections coming up, no single person should have the power to interfere so heavily with the course of democracy.

“A social media platform’s policies are good if the most extreme 10% on left and right are equally unhappy,” Musk tweeted, indicating his extreme stances on political polarization.

Good company policy does not utilize a quota of unsatisfied users to gauge its popularity.

Musk has also been extremely vague regarding his ideas for the platform and has yet to issue a press conference detailing his $44 billion investment. He likely purchased the company on an impulse and is still trying to figure out how he’s going to play with his new investment.

The only certain thing is that Twitter can be used to manipulate markets and Musk has already run into issues with financial regulators, many of whom have regarded his tweets as “false and misleading” to investors.

For instance, Musk promoted a competitor on Twitter this week to either mislead his followers or because he misunderstood how the Top Charts algorithm works.

The Tesla CEO has also been accused of pumping and dumping the cryptocurrency Dogecoin through his tweets and SNL appearance.

Musk’s net worth growth coincides with his chaotic embrace of the platform, so while Twitter might not make much money as a company, there are plenty of ways that Musk can channel it as a resource.

If Musk plans to run Twitter as a free speech absolutist, then the platform will flop in the near future.

With the EU passing new laws to regulate misinformation and hate speech, the company could see a potential ban if it refuses to enforce any type of censorship.

All Musk would be doing with this hands-off approach is making it easier to attack and harass people in the name of “free speech”.

At the end of the day Musk is in over his head, with four other companies to manage aside from his latest acquisition. Just recently, Tesla issued a recall of over 60,000 vehicles, proving Musk’s energy could better be expended elsewhere.