Elon Musk’s 9.2% Stake Purchase in Twitter Leads to Purchase Proposal of Entire Company


Photo credit: Hunter Deniaud

By Tanner Norris

The richest man in the world and the CEO of Tesla and Space X, Elon Musk is a frequent user of the leading news social media platform Twitter and has now purchased a 9.2% stake in the company.

Musk claims to be an advocate for freedom of speech and demonstrates this on his Twitter account through an array of controversial interactions.

The advocacy of this concept on Twitter and in general appears to have enticed Musk to increase his 9.2% stake in the company to a $44 billion dollar offer to acquire Twitter, which would make it a private company.

According to Musk, “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.”

Musk followed up on the above statement with a tweet reiterating his personal opinions regarding free speech and hinting at what type of changes he could bring to the platform.

“By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law,” Musk said. “I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.”

Musk’s inquiry to purchase Twitter has been met with mixed feelings from journalists who use the platform as a medium for their work. Given how fast news spreads on Twitter, misinformation can run rampant, which is why censorship is established, especially in instances where one has a large platform.

Digital Media Reporting and Writing Professor at Moorpark College Cyrus Saatsaz shared insight from the perspective of a journalist into the importance of this platform for the field and the general population as well.

“It’s a great method of engagement for the journalist to connect with the demographic they cover or provide coverage for,” Saatsuz said.

Saatsuz also stressed that Twitter plays a key in ensuring the public’s trust in the media.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of transparency in journalism, and Twitter helps break the barriers of secrecy that in so many ways has contributed to the distrust the public has for the very media entities they depend on for the information they need to democratically elect candidates that best serve their interests,” Saatsuz said.

Although Twitter makes it easier for the media to relay information to the public, another problem arises from the fast-paced nature of the platform known as fake news. According to The Atlantic, the largest ever study of fake news found that fake news and rumors reached a broader audience as opposed to stories that contained accurate information.

The Atlantic reports, “By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network and spread much faster than accurate stories.”

Musk has expressed concern about censorship and infringement upon the freedom of speech. However, as asserted by Saatsuz, when there are accounts that use their platforms to steadily spread misinformation in an effort to produce a rise in the population, the platforms themselves must be held responsible for the misinformative content.

“I hope Musk understands the tremendous responsibility he’s inherited with this purchase given the platform’s role in the dissemination of information,” Saatsuz said. “Twitter is mass media and needs to be recognized as such.”

With the average U.S. citizen spending 147 minutes a day on social media, it is difficult to not stumble across misinformation, and the line between an infringement of rights and preventing fake news from spreading seems to be thin.

Questions are being raised about the changes that would be made to Twitter, now on route to becoming a private company belonging to Musk. Should Musk’s offer go through, there is a possibility that misinformation can spread even faster on the platform than factual information if it is not properly addressed.

To stay updated on the finalization of this deal and to see the everyday thoughts of Musk, click here.