The memes are coming thick and fast as Elon Musk’s hostile takeover of Twitter evolves. It has sparked a full-scale culture war where Musk gets to paint himself as the savior of Free Speech against an increasingly Medieval-looking company devoted to censorship.
Having declined Musk’s original offer and denied rumors that the Board was, ‘being held hostage’ by all that shiny cash, Twitter has announced its intention to enact a ‘poison pill’ scenario to deter the richest man on Earth.
Musk must be laughing. Twitter may as well have thrown itself into the discount bin where he can pick it up later after grabbing a coffee. A corporate ‘poison pill’, also known as a limited-duration shareholder rights plan, is a high-risk strategy that only really works if the buyer isn’t particularly keen. Yes, it dilutes the ownership of shareholders, including Musk, but it also eats away at the share value.
Netflix successfully deployed the strategy in 2012 against Carl Icahn after he acquired almost 10% of its shares before selling all of it five years later after making a huge profit. Icahn had very different goals to Musk when he tried to acquire Netflix. Remember, Twitter is playing a game against the richest kid in the world who has plans to shake up America’s social landscape. It’s as risky as betting against the House.
On Friday, Twitter launched their plan to unload more stock to existing shareholders at a slashed rate if any shareholder attempted to exceed 15%, bleeding the company value. The sharks will now circle, with Twitter hunting for a ‘friendly’ buyer that will let them keep their safe-space lefty whine-fest and, more importantly, control over crucial political, cultural, and corporate interests.
Thoma Bravo LP is interested, the Vanguard group picked up a few more shares to take them to 10.3%, and a Saudi Prince continues to sit quietly in the background – observing events from his gold-plated palace. Weirdly, no one criticizing Musk for being a ‘billionaire’ have any problem with the Middle Eastern Prince or his anti-Semitic comments.
Even ex-CEO and founder Jack Dorsey has stumbled out of the wilderness to weigh in. “As a public company, Twitter has always been ‘for sale’. That’s the real issue.”
When news of Musk’s intention to acquire the social media platform first arose, no one was quite sure if Twitter was going to offer itself up like a special on Amazon, or bite and scratch all the way to the shopping cart.
Twitter has copped a lot of flak over the years, with so-called ‘serious’ political commentators making a sport of referring to it as a sewer or irrelevant. Mainstream media has done everything possible to undersell the social influence of Twitter while simultaneously stealing more than half their news content from it every single day.
To be brutally honest, the media are terrified of Twitter.
Its unique information model of user-generated, largely unmoderated news flowing in from every corner of the globe 24/7 outpaces newspapers and TV stations. Twitter never sleeps. Never stops. And never pays its legion of volunteers who create content solely for their own amusement. It is impossible to get access to raw content faster than Twitter causing customers flock to the platform – even as passive users – to find stories. Worse, as mainstream news indulges in self-censorship in the name of ‘political correctness’, people have abandoned their printed pages in favor of Twitter for ‘the real story’ sitting beneath editorial redactions.
Twitter did not set out to be a news publication, but it certainly functions as one. The biggest, most powerful news outlet on the world stalked by intelligent advertising third parties that see Twitter users as little dollar bills.
It is no accident that those who seek to control Twitter focus on ‘truth’.
‘Truth’ has never been a feature of social media platforms – or of human conversation in general. Are there fact-checkers hovering over your shoulder at the local pub, policing gossip? No. Online platforms, since their inception, have been places for people to talk freely sharing information and ideas that may or may not be true. Fantasy is what fuels the hive of creativity that gave rise to digital empires. If you demand absolute truth of humans, there will be no humans.
Twitter’s focus on ‘truth’ is highly selective and contained to topics where Twitter’s corporate and political friends have a vested interest. This is reflected in their ‘Community Safety Guidelines’ which are limited to Covid, Climate Change, and political elections.
In other words, Twitter’s vested interests.
Users can spend all day posting ‘proof’ that the world is flat, aliens have landed in Antarctica, and the cavemen rode dinosaurs. No one cares – least of all Twitter. No one is going to have their accounts suspended for spamming their feed with a ‘moon landing hoax video’.
The only thing that interests Twitter is brand protection. The entire platform is a giant social influencer, like one of those models barely dressed in the latest Kardashian thong pimping a makeup brand no one’s ever heard of. Apologies if any readers momentarily envisioned Dorsey wearing the Borat mankini.
At first, companies and politicians passively observed social trends taking place on these new platforms. They monitored Twitter commentary in order to work out what products to create and who to market them to. Then, as the age of targeted digital marketing took hold, the relationship strengthened between Twitter accounts and corporate interests.
It has become their primary profit model.
The natural evolution of this involved the manipulation of the market to suit corporate sales. Instead of selling to customers, customers are told what to buy and are not allowed to criticize the product. ‘Products’ in this case include everything from sneakers and vaccines to politicians and social movements. As far as Twitter is concerned, the White House is another item on the shelf.
Social media platforms took a turn for the worse when corporations started interfering, but Twitter became dangerous to democracy when politicians realized how much power was embedded in the platform and decided to use it to turn elections.
Twitter has an interest in twisting the arm of a US election, not only because the oligarchs of Silicon Valley lean so far left they’re practically laying in Stalin’s lap, but also because they know full well that they have been existing in violation of Section 230 for some time. Twitter, along with Facebook and several other major digital corporations, broke Antitrust laws by colluding to erase people and competitive companies – not once, but repeatedly. They are acting as a monopoly power and the only reason they get away with it is because the politicians whose job it is to bring them before the court – want them to abuse that power.
Elon Musk is no doubt aware that Twitter and Silicon Valley are running a protection racket for the White House and Musk’s corporate competitors. Musk is almost certainly more interested in the latter, but his maverick personality and taste for drama might see him unleash hell on the former.
Twitter has immense value, far more than its price tag. That much has been made clear by the people who have come after Musk since he started this game. All of a sudden, he is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission while Twitter’s media protectors spend all day branding him with every slur imaginable.
As an electric vehicle pioneer he should be loved by the left. Instead, Musk is hated. Hated because he routinely finds himself fighting against bureaucracy, corporate monstrosities, and corrupt governments.
His love of freedom over control terrifies the left. They don’t want free speech to return to the internet. The liberty of thought and speech that built the internet presents a competitive creative environment that would give rise to rival digital empires. The barons of Silicon Valley pulled the ladder of success up behind them. They want everyone beneath them to think, do, and repeat what they are told so that Twitter can make a fortune selling advertising rights and tipping elections.
Musk’s acquisition cuts the Big Brother realm down at the knees. No one knows what will happen if social media companies like Twitter are freed and allowed to function as a genuine public forum. As it stands, Twitter is a poisoned chalice full of modernity’s muck.
What happens if Musk tips the cup over?
At the very least, we might see a shift in politics away from collectivism and back toward liberty.