Eleven days after making a bid of $44 bn to buy Twitter, Elon Musk has successfully struck a deal with the social media giant. In the upcoming days, he will be the sole owner of the platform, which has emerged as a global megaphone in today’s world.
While Musk cannot be stopped legally from obtaining Twitter and running it privately, there are enough downsides to this deal.
Musk’s Takeover of Twitter is Detrimental to Democracy
Musk acquired the platform, pledging to defend democracy and freedom of speech. However, this is just one perspective, as the absolute control of any billionaire on any media platform is a poor thing for democracy.
With a personal wealth of $273 before the deal, Elon Musk is the richest man on the planet.
His money is equivalent to the GDP of New Zealand or Portugal, both of which are in the top 50 richest countries of the world.
Throughout his career, he has been highly successful in introducing new technologies, primarily Tesla cars and SpaceX rockets.
According to Musk, Twitter is not achieving its “societal imperative” at the moment, which is a major hindrance to freedom of speech.
Last month, Musk surveyed his Twitter followers and asked them about the deteriorating model of democracy on the platform. Back then, he gave a signal of what he would like to do with Twitter.
Musk’s Twitter takeover can be considered as a part of his greater plan, which he is doing to accumulate further riches. Twitter has been vocal in the past in highlighting the negatives of Tesla electric cars, which has raised concerns about Musk’s ambitions.
Musk was disturbed by the negative news coverage of his Tesla on Twitter in 2018 when the news regarding the accidents of auto-pilot cars started making rounds.
He even denounced the so-called hypocrisy of the big media companies and stated,
“The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, [which] is why the public no longer respects them.”
Later on, he announced to created his own platform, adding,
“(I promise to) create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article and track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor, and publication.”
Musk Will Only Protect his Own Interests with Twitter
Now, Musk’s actions to control a social media giant can be partially driven by his old desires to own a media company.
But he is not the only billionaire who is now owning a media giant, which is actually a worrisome part of the whole story.
The media is considered a gatekeeper to the information that flows toward people. However, when ultra-rich people control these media outlets, they are likely to design their own rules of the game to protect their business interests and help propagate their ideologies.
Mark Zuckerberg, for example, with a worth of over $75 billion, owns Facebook. Jeff Bezos’s company is an owner of the liberal news outlet Washington Post.
In 2017, the widow of tech billionaire Steve Jobs bought The Atlantic. Similarly, another billionaire acquired the media outlet The Times due to his money.
Thus Elon Musk would just be the latest addition to the club of people who are billionaires and own media companies at the same time.
This is a dangerous trend as these examples are actually responsible for killing the sanctity of free and fair information, which is critical for protecting democratic ethos in the world, which has been starting to compromise in the wake of disinformation campaigns.
Some reports even suggest that Elon Musk would allow former President Donald Trump on Twitter. For someone like Trump, who was an avid user of the platform, this deal thus paves an opportunity to bring chaos to America once again.