Issue #381

Elon’s Quest To Buy Twitter

When I got up this morning, I was seeing rumblings on Twitter that Elon Musk may have officially reached a deal to purchase Twitter.

This is going to be interesting, to say the least.

When (and why) did all this start?

I was around when Twitter first started. I and many bloggers thought it was a great platform. Having followers on there actually mattered because it wasn’t so noisy. And it was effective for networking.

Over time, things shifted. It became more integrated into the news media as suddenly a single tweet could be the basis for a “news” story. Public figures were using Twitter to “react” to things. And, of course, bots and fake accounts created a lot of noise to try to sway opinion and spread propaganda.

Censorship began to be a hot button – and deservedly so. The company began to moderate and censor content on the platform in an attempt to stop the spread of “misinformation”. Not only that, the company was censoring in a very biased way. For instance, in the last US election, Twitter openly suppressed any mention of an official news story about the president’s son. It was labeled misinformation even though everything has since been fully verified as true.

Now, I know full well that much of that gets into politics. And things can get heated. Unfortunately, that very fact is because of how Twitter has stupidly been handling things. And the fact that opinions on this censorship tend to fall on political lines shows the nature of the issue. I view it as a symptom of them handling the issue in the wrong way.

Enter Elon.

He tweets out that free speech is a requirement for a functioning democracy. And then he posts a poll asking if people think Twitter adheres to that principle. And says “The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.”

He wasn’t kidding. 70% of respondents said Twitter does NOT adhere to the principle of free speech. And next thing you know… Elon was making an offer to purchase the company.

Essentially, it was a hostile takeover. Twitter is a publicly traded company and the board is therefore legally obligated to do what is in the best interests of the shareholders. Elon comes in and offers a premium over the stock price.

Twitter reacted in a polarizing way because… well, it is Twitter. Many praise the move by Elon because they think it will mean Twitter opens up and censorship will go away. Plus, Elon is just an interesting guy and it will be fun to watch what he does with the company. Others reacted negatively because they want Twitter to remain as is and think certain “misinformation” should be throttled from the public view. Lots of debates over censorship ensued.

Back in the boardroom, the Twitter board initially tried to fend off the offer. But, really, that was a stupid move and showed (to me, anyway) that they were more interested in maintaining their bottleneck on information than on money. They are legally obligated to do what is in the best interests of their shareholders and refusing Elon’s offer wasn’t it.

Elon said he had a “Plan B”. Everybody was waiting to see what that would be.

Which brings us to today.

Here’s where I stand…

I am very much in favor of Elon taking over Twitter. And I agree with him that free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Twitter has not been a truly fair platform. It has been run from a standpoint of arrogance about what qualifies to be seen and discussed in public. That’s wrong.

The interesting thing, too, is that Twitter hasn’t even been run very well. Their stock price has been slowly dwindling away. And the company doesn’t turn a profit.

I mean, how stupid is that? A company as popular as Twitter and they can’t even manage to make a profit?

So, it looks as if Twitter may be successfully purchased by Elon Musk. Likely there are a few other shareholders involved, too. And it appears the intention is to take Twitter private so it will no longer be a publicly traded company.

What kind of changes might we see on the platform? Here’s a few I expect to see…

First, I think they will (and should) introduce transparency. Twitter has been moderated in a hidden, centralized way which is why there’s so much distrust. I think Elon will move to open source the platform and make the code public. I think they will introduce a common set of rules that everybody sees, and they will introduce a public audit trail on tweets so that anytime a tweet is moderated, everybody can see so and why.

I think a major move will be made to kick all the spam accounts and bots off the platform and ensure accounts are owned by real people. How exactly this is executed, I don’t know. But, the idea of the “verified” blue check mark accounts should become more accessible for everybody rather than something people celebrate because it makes them look special.

I think the biased censorship will begin to go away. You may even see some formerly banned accounts be allowed to come back. The bot/spam accounts are far more harmful to the public discourse than anything a real human can say.

I think we could see some platform changes, such as long-form tweets, and edit button, etc. We may also see some moves toward Web3 and crypto since that is the future. Will Elon try to integrate Dogecoin?

What do you think this acquisition could mean for Twitter’s future?

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