Elon Musk is now the majority shareholder in Twitter. The Tesla CEO now holds a 9.2% stake. A report by Bloomberg shows that much of this stock was purchased on March 14th. The price of Twitter shares shot up by 25% after the news broke and Musk was invited to sit on the company's board moving forward. The purchase followed Musk's complaints about free speech on the platform. He sent a seemingly innocuous tweet questioning Twitter’s track record of free speech.
A few days later, it emerged that he had bought a 9.2% stake in the company. CNBC reported that the acquisition cost Musk nearly $3 billion. But for the world's richest man, that amount appears like a drop in the ocean. There is growing speculation though as to what Musk intends to do with his stake in Twitter.
Some experts argue that he may push for significant changes in the company's policies. Also, there is some talk that the move could be the beginning of a hostile takeover that could see Musk own a controlling stake in the company. There is a lot of concern that Twitter is not adhering to the fundamental principles of free speech. In fact, when Musk issued a poll asking his 80 million followers if they believed Twitter allows free speech, 70% said no. But this is not a surprise.
The social media company has said many times before that its goal is not to necessarily maintain free speech. Instead, the company says that it wants to create a safe community for constructive engagement. But it seems most people don’t buy this argument, Musk included. There is a feeling that Twitter, and by extension so many other social media platforms, have gone out of their way to censor views they consider controversial.
It’s a tough balancing act though for Twitter. In the wake of Trump’s election as US president in 2016, social media companies were heavily criticized for doing very little to stop the spread of misinformation on their platform. After that, there were a series of measures put in place to curb the spread of misleading information. But most people have pointed out that such policies appear to disadvantage certain points of view while pushing through others.
Republicans, for example, are on record arguing that Twitter and big tech companies have gone out of their way to suppress conservative views. The social media company even deleted Donald Trump’s account for what it called “misleading claims” about the US election in 2020. Trump was still the president of the United States at the time.
Whether Musk’s takeover of Twitter will have any effects on how the company views free speech remains to be seen. The Tesla CEO has called himself a “free speech absolutist.” This could suggest that Musk may use his new influence over the company to push for greater freedoms for users. It is also likely that Musk will give users greater power to decide the kind of changes they want on the platform, especially using Twitter polls.