The deal was unanimously approved by the company’s board of directors on Monday, but it was still “subject to the approval of Twitter stockholders.”Many online users, both inside and outside of the crypto industry, discussed free speech in the hours and days leading up to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of social media giant Twitter.
Twitter announced on Monday that it will become a privately held company after its board of directors accepted Musk’s offer to buy the company’s stock for $54.20( R 856) per share in cash — approximately $44 billion ( R695bn). Despite the fact that the transaction is expected to close in 2022, it is still subject to approval by Twitter stockholders as well as certain regulators.
Musk said in one of his final tweets before the purchase became public, “I hope that even my harshest critics remain on Twitter because that is what free speech means.” According to Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square.”
Many, however, appeared to believe that the multibillion-dollar purchase could have the opposite effect. Prior to the announcement, Angelo Carusone, president of the nonprofit media watchdog Media Matters for America, expressed concern that Twitter agreeing to the sale “would be a victory for disinformation and the people who peddle it,” implying that Musk might unilaterally decide to reinstate those banned from the platform for inciting violence.
Jackson Palmer, co-creator of the meme-based token Dogecoin (DOGE), which Musk has frequently promoted on the social media platform, called the acquisition a “hostile takeover” that is antithetical to the concept of freedom. Bitcoin bull Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano congratulated the new Twitter owner, while crypto lending firm BlockFi took a more amusing approach, posting a mashup photo of the Dogecoin dog and Twitter’s logo.
MicroStrategy founder and CEO Michael Saylor did not directly comment on the acquisition, instead, he responded to Musk with the text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in a tweet, implying his support for the move. Jody Hice, a member of the House of Representatives who has supported false claims of fraud in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election, praised the transaction as a victory for the first amendment as well.
It’s unclear what first amendment supporters meant when they supported Musk’s purchase of Twitter, because the constitutional amendment does not limit private employers in the United States, but rather prevents Congress from passing laws prohibiting certain types of speech.
Previously, US courts ruled that freedom of expression does not include inciting “imminent lawless action.” Similarly, Twitter’s policies state that users may not “threaten violence against an individual or a group of people” or incite others to engage in targeted harassment.
As a result of the purchase, Musk, who has more than 83 million followers — far more than former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who has 6.3 million — may influence behaviour on the platform and social media in general. On April 14, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that one of his top priorities for Twitter would be to eliminate “spam and scam bots and the bot armies,” including those associated with cryptocurrency scams.
Twitter shares were trading at $51.70 ( R 818) at the time of publication, up more than 32% in the previous 30 days.