Yesterday, April 25, 2022, Multi-billionaire and the richest single individual in the world, Elon Musk outright purchased Twitter for roughly $44 billion. When your net worth is $264.6 billion USD, you get to do that, and the Democrats’ government can’t do much about it and is unlikely to even try. 😉
Twitter As We Know It Is Over… Maybe
So, if Elon Musk does all, most, or even a significant fraction of what he claims his plans are for renewing and rebirthing Twitter – and, since he’s taking it private, there’s nothing stopping him from doing so – the Twitter that we either love or loath is likely over.
Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.— Elon Musk
Read Musk’s statement very carefully. Three words in the 1st sentence of it are very, very important, and firmly grounded in US case law. Those words are, “digital town square.”
As I’ve written before, the SCOTUS has already ruled twice that social media platforms are the modern age’s public or town square and are, as such, bound by the restrictions of the 1st Amendment.
Social media allows users to gain access to information and communicate with one another on any subject that might come to mind. With one broad stroke, North Carolina bars access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge. Foreclosing access to social media altogether thus prevents users from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.— Justice Anthony Kennedy
Packingham v. North Carolina, 582 U.S.
So, Twitter is now poised to be transformed into an actual platform for the free exercise of speech… if Mr. Musk actually follows through on his pledge. And truly, the only real thing that could prevent him from doing that is if the market will not bear it and Twitter’s federally limited number of stockholders find this too painful to tolerate. That seems more than little unlikely given people’s addiction to social media in general and Twitter in specific.
Now, it’s true that word of Musk’s now essentially fulfilled intent to buy Twitter spurred certain sorts of users, including some high-profile ones, to “say” #GoodByeTwitter, we’ve all seen, heard, and/or read about that sort of promised exodus before. 😉 So I doubt there will be much in the way of financial fallout from the buyout and proposed changes.
So, the ball is in Elon Musk’s court. Elon Musk’s new platform will largely be whatever he wants it to be. He owns it after all. I’ve some hope for it, but that hope is seasoned by long experience.