Musk's Attempted Takeover of Twitter Would Be Toxic for Its 330 Million Users and Our Democracy
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter and take the social-media company private. According to an SEC filing, Musk has made a “best and final offer” to buy up all existing shares at a valuation of $43.4 billion, representing a 38-percent premium over the company’s closing price on April 1.
Musk, who calls himself a “free-speech absolutist,” has tweeted about plans to “transform” Twitter and make “significant improvements.” He’s been a vocal critic of efforts by companies like Twitter and Meta to moderate platform content and restrict the spread of hateful and threatening speech and disinformation.
Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González said:
“What the richest man in the world wants, the richest man in the world might get. Unfortunately for the rest of us, Musk doesn’t want to buy another expensive bauble but a global online community that includes more than 330 million people.
“With that comes great responsibility. Free Press — working with our allies in the Change the Terms coalition — has urged Twitter to protect this community against the worst content online. Specifically, we’re calling on Twitter and all platforms to stop amplifying bigotry and conspiracy theories that are toxic to our information ecosystem, threaten public health and safety and undermine democracy.
“Elon Musk himself has used Twitter and other platforms to attack and effectively silence other speakers. He’s turned to social media to spread disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. He’s used Twitter to manipulate markets and increase his already-considerable wealth. And he’s done all of this while relying on an online mob of loyal followers to pile on with vicious attacks against anyone who disagrees with him.
"Users of social-media platforms shouldn’t have to be subject to the whims of bombastic billionaires who are detached from reality and lack any true commitment to free expression, racial justice and democracy.
“The success of Twitter or any mass-market platform will ultimately require making sure that users enjoy their time on the platform and don’t feel threatened by others. That requires moderating things like glorification and incitement of violence; the spread of disinformation, sexual harassment and abuse; and other hateful activities.
“Musk or no Musk, Twitter must heed the calls of civil-society and racial-justice organizations that are advocating for changes to the company’s terms of services so the platform isn’t weaponized against women, people of color, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalized groups. We’ve pressured the company to be more transparent about its moderation methods — and fear that taking the company private would make Twitter even less accountable to its users and the public.”