Elon Musk always champions free speech (except when he doesn’t)
by rayanne gwilliam, contributor
Elon Musk is a multibillionaire who is very well known for many things, such as creating Tesla, being CEO of SpaceX, and once trying to make a deal with the United Nations in a mission to end world hunger. However, most recently he is known for being in a “war” against Twitter after trying to back out of a contracted deal for him to purchase it in July. Soon thereafter, he decided he wanted to back out of the deal in which he had agreed to pay $44 billion for the social platform.
This was met with criticism in various forms regarding both the price and the fact that while Musk was very public about his concerns around people keeping their right to freedom of speech, two of the other richest people in the world also own similar social media platforms. Think of Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post, for example. Due to this, it was logical to see this as a publicity stunt or as an attempt at feeding his ego and keeping up with others in his tax bracket.
There are also those who grew very upset over the price agreed upon, especially considering the fact that the United Nations only quoted Elon Musk $6 billion in order to solve world hunger, and he disagreed with their proposal and didn’t move forward. This can come off as insulting, because even if that number or proposal wasn’t well-constructed enough, it could be seen as not being worth the investment, yet Twitter is valued at over seven times as much which is inflammatory to many. Therefore, it’s possible that Elon Musk decided to try and renege on the deal to avoid a possible public backlash.
Furthermore, his getting cold feet could also possibly be due to an ignorance regarding the state of the platform from a financial standpoint, and his ability to revive it and keep it popular and worth the investment from a business perspective. This is especially relevant considering how he’s recently stated he was provided information from an ex-employee who said that “the company misled regulators about its poor cybersecurity defences and its negligence in attempting to root out fake accounts that spread disinformation”. Twitters response was as follows: “based solely on statements made by a third party that, as Twitter has previously stated, are riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lack important context”.
It’s arguable that both parties are attempting to do damage control and end up with the least amount of collateral damage possible – Musk with his money into the company and the bad publicity, and Twitter with their concerns about loss of reputation and stock value due to the allegations and bad publicity. As a result, Twitter is suing Elon Musk for trying to back out of the deal and breaching his signed contract, as a means to try to force him to go through with it. For obvious reasons, from this point further, any underlying problems or negative impact on the platform become his problems, not those of the current owner. Meanwhile, Elon’s goal is to prove that the deal was made under false pretences, which motivated his decision to back out from his purchase in light of new information. Ultimately, we will witness this trial and its news coverage when it begins on October 7.