Artificial Intelligence

Elon Musk has become Twitter’s largest shareholder.

Twitter’s stock soared after Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed on Monday that he owns a significant stake in the social media platform, which he has chastised for its approach to free speech.

According to a securities filing, Musk, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, became the company’s top shareholder after purchasing 73.5 million shares, or 9.2 percent of common stock.

Based on Friday’s share price, the investment is worth almost $2.9 billion. According to Forbes, Musk is the world’s richest man, with a net worth of $287.6 billion.

The billionaire is a prolific Twitter user, frequently blending aggressive and contentious statements about topics or other public figures with witty or business-related comments.

After a rumored attempt to take Tesla private in 2018 went through, he clashed with federal securities officials, who cracked down on his social media use.

Twitter’s stock soared 27.1 percent to $49.97 on the announcement.

Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and John Katsingris wrote in a note that “we would expect this passive stake to be just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board (and) management that could eventually lead to an active stake and a (potentially) more aggressive ownership role of Twitter.”

‘All you have to do is buy Twitter.’
Musk’s shareholding was revealed as a result of a recent survey he conducted among his fans.

Musk, who has discussed possibly launching his own social media company, launched a survey on Twitter on March 25 asking: “Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Musk, who has discussed possibly launching his own social media company, said “free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.”

Over two million individuals participated in the survey, with more than 70% voting “no.”

“Failure to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy, given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square. So, what should we do?” The next day, he resumed. “Does a new platform appear to be required?”

One of the first responses from tens of thousands of users was to “just buy twitter.”

Conservatives in the United States have long claimed that the platform restricts right-wing speakers, a claim that the business disputes.

Its detractors point to Twitter’s decision to ban former US President Donald Trump over his role in fomenting the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Georgia congressman who has regularly promoted falsehoods about Covid-19 and immunizations against it, has been reprimanded on Twitter at times.

“Freedom of speech restored will enable us all to overcome them,” Greene tweeted in response to Musk’s investment.

Deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission
Musk has invoked the right to free speech as a motivator for his efforts to overturn a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that restricted his use of Twitter following his August 2018 tweet claiming that money to take Tesla private had been “secured.”

Musk agreed to pay $20 million to settle SEC accusations of securities fraud over the assertion, as well as implement new controls and processes to oversee his communications, the following month.

Musk’s lawyers, on the other hand, have sought a federal court to overturn the agreement, claiming that the agency has conducted “endless unjustified investigations” into Musk and his company because Musk “remains an outspoken critic of the government.”

Musk has also used Twitter to stir up controversy outside of the business world: following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March, he challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to a fight, and in February, Musk drew criticism for a tweet comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.

In the summer of 2018, Musk notably sparred with a British caver who dismissed Musk’s promise to assist rescue teenage soccer players trapped in a cave in Thailand.

On Twitter, Musk referred to the caver, Vernon Unsworth, as “pedo man.”

Unsworth sued Musk for defamation, but after a trial, a Los Angeles jury ruled in favor of the billionaire in December 2019.

 

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