There are good reasons why Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter

There are good reasons why Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter

Compared to other social media companies, Twitter is small.

Years, investors criticized him due to failure to reach its full potential. Twitter has failed to gain billions of users like Facebook (which is over 11 times more active users per day) or develop a mega advertising business such as YouTube owned by Google five times the income than Twitter last quarter).

But Elon Musk’s $ 43 billion offer to buy Twitter on Thursday – whether it is feasible or not – shows how important and influential the company is, even compared to much larger rivals. There is a good reason why Musk, the richest person in the world, has already spent about $ 3 billion to buy the largest share of Twitter and is now spending his time and effort loudly declaring that he wants to take over the company completely. Again, even if Musk does not plan to fulfill the agreement, he still uses his power and influence to put pressure on Twitter to run the business as he wishes. The reason why Twitter is valuable to Musk is, in essence, the same reason why it is valuable to politicians like former President Donald Trump, who for years tried to say whatever he wanted on the platform without consequences, until he crossed the line that Twitter (and most others) social platforms) has permanently suspended it.

For politicians, business leaders, celebrities and journalists, Twitter is a key platform for spreading their messages and controlling their own narratives. Musk’s focus on Twitter, and his efforts to influence how it works and moderates its users, underscores how important a company is to public discourse – no matter how much profit it makes – and raises questions about who should be able to control the company which holds so much power.

Speaking at the 2022 TED Conference in Vancouver on Thursday, Musk was asked why he wants to buy Twitter: “My strong, intuitive feeling is that having a public platform that is trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important for the future of civilization,” Musk said. “But I don’t care about the economy at all.”

There is good reason to question Musk’s claim that he wants to take over Twitter in defense of freedom of speech and civilization, as my colleague Whizy Kim wrote. But it also makes sense that Mask is not really about making or losing money on Twitter. Musk’s interest in owning or reshaping the company shows how valuable the platform is, even if that value comes in the form of soft power.

The social and political value of Twitter is greater than the share price

Twitter is, in many ways, an elite platform. While it can sometimes raise the voices of ordinary people who do not provoke mass tracking on the platform, it is most powerful as a communication tool for already prominent and influential people.

Although it is about 200 million users a dayTwitter has played a huge role in policy-making, especially in the US as a former election platform for Trump until the end of his presidency, when he was permanently suspended due to tweeting in support of the January 6 Capitol uprising.

In the past, when once prominent users like Trump, Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos were banned on Twitter, they were turned to alternative platforms to attract attention but failed to attract the same attention from social media they had on their Twitter peak. Twitter differs from Facebook and Google in that financial markets don’t really reflect its full power, which is why Musk may accept the idea of ​​buying an entire company with a fraction of his overall estimate net worth of over $ 220 billion.

The importance of Twitter makes it vulnerable to exploitation.

The same VIPs who increase the value of Twitter by tweeting all the time can use it to wreak havoc. Influencers used Twitter to push conspiracy theories like QAnon in the mainstream, politicians have used to threaten violenceand celebrities are used to it promote harmful health misinformation.

As a result of all these problems, Twitter has expanded its rules around problematic speech in recent years, such as labeling false election claims ormisinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. In its new era, Twitter has begun to balance its commitment to enabling people to say what they want and minimizing the harm people can do using its platform. For Mask, there is value in being a person who sets those conditions, and he has made it clear that he will make a mistake if he allows as much controversial speech as possible.

“Twitter should comply with the country’s laws,” Musk told a TED conference on Thursday, then later said, “If it’s a gray area, I’d say let the tweet exist.”

But allowing absolute freedom of speech is easier in concept than in practice. If Musk were to buy Twitter, his rules on moderating topics, from hate speech to threats of nuclear violence, would ultimately be at his discretion or at the discretion of the leaders he puts in charge.

If another big technology company like Facebook or Apple tried to buy Twitter, it would likely raise anti-monopoly concerns. But nothing under U.S. law prevents an incredibly wealthy person like Musk from buying a company with so much power, although there is an obvious possibility that Musk could use the platform to shape his own business or political interests.

We still don’t know what will be of Musk’s expressed interest in buying Twitter. It is worth noting that, despite being the richest man in the world, he may not have liquid money for it, as much of his wealth is tied to stocks. But this saga emphasizes how valuable Twitter is, no matter the end result.

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