Elon Musk buys huge stake in Twitter to address its failure to ‘adhere to free speech principles’

by Ryan Meilstrup

Photo credit: Alamy

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made waves Monday when the SEC disclosed that he had taken a significant stake in social media giant Twitter Inc.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing confirmed that Musk had taken a 9.2 percent stake in the company worth $2.89 billion, making him the platform’s largest shareholder.

Investors reacted positively to the news, sending shares of Twitter surging to as much as 26 percent as of Monday morning, which is the biggest intraday increase for Twitter in more than four years.

The latest news takes on even more significance given Musk’s rumblings on social media about challenging Twitter by possibly starting a rival social media platform of his own.

Last month, Musk asked his 80 million Twitter followers whether they thought that a new platform to rival Twitter was needed, given the company’s questionable record on free speech.

Musk tweeted, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?”

He then polled his followers, asking if they believed Twitter allowed free speech.

Musk tweeted, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?”

The respondents overwhelmingly said that Twitter does not rigorously adhere to free speech principles, with only 29 percent believing that the social media company does so.

A Twitter follower tweeted at Musk, asking him whether he would consider building his own platform to rival Twitter, to which Musk replied: “Am giving serious thought to this.”

Musk’s Twitter account has strayed into more political content over the years, including famously when he referred to taking the red pill (a reference to the iconic Matrix film franchise), which was interpreted as a critique of the political left.

In response to the Canadian Freedom Convoy that enveloped the Canadian capital of Ottawa in February, Musk tweeted his support for the freedom convoy when he wrote, “Canadian truckers rule.”

Speculation is abounding over Musk’s next move with some positing that he might have bigger ambitions to garner a bigger ownership role in the company. This would presumably give him more say in running the business to ensure that it adheres to free speech principles.

Given Musk’s history of cryptic tweets, he might keep followers guessing for a while.  

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