Why Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter | Technology
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This April has been very complicated at Twitter’s headquarters. Tesla founder Elon Musk first announced that he had become the company’s largest shareholder. The next day he said that he was joining his board of directors. On Sunday he resigned to enter the council. And this Thursday he has announced that he wants to buy the entire company.
There are so many theories and assumptions about these Musk moves that it’s hard to understand why. But there are clues. The figure for which Musk wants to buy each share of Twitter is $54.20. In 2018, perhaps in the tweet that has caused him the most problems, he announced that he was going to buy all the shares of Tesla, his company, at $420 each to take it off the stock market. Stocks skyrocketed, making him even richer.
The number 420 has been linked to marijuana for years. His obsession with that number is remarkable. The definitive trolling would have been the announcement on April 20 (4/20):
69.420% of statistics are false
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2022
That unrealistic announcement to repurchase Tesla has caused a serious conflict with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) since 2018. Musk should have his tweets about Tesla reviewed by company lawyers, but it’s not clear that will happen. In the face of Musk’s repeated infractions and trolling (including a thinly veiled accusation that the SEC stands for Suck Elon’s Cock, or “suck Elon’s dick”), one of the extreme options the SEC has was to limit Musk’s ability to tweet. If that point were reached, the Twitter security team would receive a notification to monitor the owner’s account. It would be the ultimate trolling of a basic institution of the US markets.
That game of numbers might be lower, but Musk is the king of Twitter since Trump’s departure, beyond his 81 million followers. Memes and trolling are an essential part of his activity. His first tweet about the ad was “oh hi lol”, that touches the million likes. In another tweet three days later, he came out smoking a joint with this headline: “The next Twitter board of directors will be handsome.” Laugh at the world and the shitposting they are staples for Musk. shit posting that is to say something just to mess around, confuse, relativize and laugh at the audience. It’s a kind of sophisticated trolling.
Could Musk have made this mess just to laugh at the world? Of course. In now-deleted tweets, Musk proposed removing the “w” from Twitter to make it a variant of “tit”, “boob” in English. Also tweeted the question “Is Twitter dying?” Someone who sits on a board of directors is obliged to defend the interests of the company.
The big underlying question today is whether Musk really wants to buy Twitter. It is impossible to answer and it is probably even secondary. If his offer is rejected, Musk says in his letter that he will consider what to do with the shares he purchased. They’ve gone up a lot since he bought them in March. The new announcement has caused another rise. With a sale he would earn a few hundred million dollars and leave this stage behind. It is a possible hypothesis.
I’ve kept quiet since the announcement because I wanted to give Twitter leadership a chance to do right by it’s employees, and they did. Thank you. https://t.co/Hq1gr60EQh
— Rumman Chowdhury (@ruchowdh) April 11, 2022
In his offer letter, Musk says he believes in Twitter’s potential to be “the platform for free speech around the world.” That phrase is synonymous with many things, but above all with allowing Donald Trump to return to the platform. On Twitter there is a group of employees who have been trying for years to turn the network into a space free of misinformation, harassment or hate. Rumman Chowdhury, one of its main representatives as Director of Ethics of machine learning, Accountability and Transparency, tweeted after Musk resigned from the Twitter board: “I have been silent since the announcement because I wanted to give Twitter leaders the opportunity to do the right thing for their employees, and they did. Thank you”.
It has also been shown other times in the history of the internet that it is a losing strategy: in the end the horror of total freedom of expression is enormous and some kind of moderation returns.
Some of us have been watching the exact same cycle play out since 90s-era IRC chat room days pic.twitter.com/xdGsBIdhaT
— Jason Pargin, author of John Dies at the End, etc (@JohnDiesattheEn) April 4, 2022
Still, if the buyout goes through, Musk has praised a path for Twitter that both co-founder Jack Dorsey and current CEO Parag Agrawal have championed: decentralizing the platform. There is already a team within the company working on it. Its intention is to avoid that it is the company that decides how to moderate the network and that this decision passes to each user: now the network suspends accounts and orders the tweets with an algorithm.
In the decentralized option, the protocol would be open and users could organize their timelines and decide who and what appears. The wild west would be safe, but the freedom of expression would be greater and whoever wanted to limit viewing according to what content could do so. It is something still green and with few details.
“Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it,” Musk writes in his offer. The answer is not up to him and now it seems that he may be open to any option. Even if it’s for the laughs.
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