Elon Musk has always been a controversial figure, one whose projects have often ruffled the feathers of more conservative voices. With his current, and potential, acquisitions, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO could take the technological world by storm, especially if he were to buy Twitter. What would happen if such a move were to happen?
The reason why this has been a topic of discussion at all is because in July 2020, Musk made a tweet indicating he was interested in purchasing the social media outlet. This was confirmed in an SEC filing, which indicated that though he had not yet discussed the specifics, he was actively interested in the pursuit.
Some experts have said that Twitter’s stock, thought to be overpriced and threatened with stagnation, could be drastically altered under Musk’s control. A revamp in leadership and further innovation could be just what is needed to lift the platform and make it attractive to investors again.
Others have suggested the opposite. Without strong leadership, the platform could see a sharp decline, especially as many of the biggest draws are becoming increasingly negative, drawing away potential new customers.
There is also the potential for censorship. As an outspoken advocate of certain causes and highly engaged on Twitter, Musk may use his power to dictate what can and cannot be said on the platform. Such control would drastically alter the user experience, though it could potentially be used in the interest of some user safety.
It is also interesting to note that in a survey of Twitter users, over half said that they would be more likely to use the platform if Musk were to take the reins. Most again said that the changes would have to include better user safety and more reliable content moderation.
One of the issues related to a potential acquisition is the money associated with it. Musk has been estimated to have a net worth of around $70 billion, yet Twitter’s market capitalization currently stands at around $19 billion. It is unclear if Musk could purchase the company outright, though it certainly seems possible.
It is also not known what the long-term effects of such a move would be on both Musk and Twitter. The cost of maintaining the company could be astronomical, as it serves as one of the most influential and widely-used social media outlets in the world. This could in turn significantly bleed Musk’s investment and directly affect his net worth.
Moreover, Musk’s other projects may also be hindered if he were to purchase Twitter. With Tesla and SpaceX having such large investments, an insurrection of resources to Twitter could mean a drastic sowing in these other ventures. Many have estimated that Tesla has about $4 billion of unrestricted cash, and executive attention may be better used elsewhere if focused to Twitter.
Political and Legal Issues
The political implications of a potential acquisition could be far reaching. Musk has often used Twitter as a platform to express his views, and with such a powerful tool in his hands, he could use it to sway public opinion or even government policy. Though freedom of speech is a constitutional right, Twitter provides a centralized platform that could be used in potentially hazardous ways if mishandled.
Additionally, legal issues may arise. Laws pertaining to mergers and antitrust may come into play, making the purchase legally problematic. Many are quick to point out issues with large companies exercising too much control, and Musk’s firm’s may face legal battles as a result.
It is also not known what antitrust regulations in other countries could impact the potential transaction. With many Twitter users hailing from outside the United States, regulations abroad could complicate the purchase significantly.
Finally, there is the issue of security and privacy. Twitter has had a concerning track record with regards to data, and any fresh purchases should be looked at as a potential invasion of user privacy rights.
Influence on Consumer Choice
Moreover, there could be a potential benefit of Musk taking over Twitter. Competitors in the social networking space like Facebook and Instagram have been long in charge of how users interact with one another and the media, a move to the direction of one of the largest social media pioneers could open up the space to a new level of breadth and creativity.
It is also possible that Twitter may see a return of several former platforms. Several of the most iconic platforms on Twitter have been bought out by larger companies like Microsoft, resulting in a decrease in innovation as a consequence. A return of Twitter to its former self could bring back the smaller, more creative platforms which have been pushed out of the space.
Many have voiced their support for such a move, noting that an injection of life into a stagnant platform could be very beneficial. Some also point to the potential for Twitter to scale up in a way that it was never capable of in the past. With adequate investment, Twitter could see truly innovative products being added to its platform.
Finally, it is worth noting the potential for new revenue streams. Twitter currently makes money largely through advertising, yet this means data driven targeting. With access to Tesla’s and SpaceX’s already existing technology, Twitter could expand and build its own data empire.
It is no secret that Musk has a very specific political stance, and many are worried about the impact his entire on Twitter could have on society as a whole. The power of the platform is reaching levels which cannot be ignored, and the ease with which misinformation can spread has been a concern of many.
Moreover, the political implications could be far reaching. Though many are not concerned with the return of underhanded tactics on the platform, the potential to silence hundreds of millions of voices with a single, solitary move should not be ignored.
There is also the potential for foreign entities to interfere in politics or sway public opinion. Though it has yet to be seen, the possibility of underhanded tactics used to spread propaganda and fake news should not be ignored.
Finally, it is unclear how well user privacy would be protected in such circumstances. Though Musk has already made statements indicating his dedication to proper data protection, the risk of user information being used for nefarious purposes remains very real.
The overall perception from the public on this topic is still quite divided. Some are against the move, suggesting it would negatively impact free speech and privacy, while others are hopeful that the investment would result in mass-innovation. It is clear that none have definitive answers on the matter, as the consequences of such an action are still unknown.
Notably, a large portion of the public are in support of the potential move, suggesting that it could open up numerous possibilities in terms of innovation and creativity. This sentiment has been echoed by key figures such as Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter himself.
It remains to be seen what will happen, but with the investment numbers increasing ever so slightly, it is still plausible that Musk may be interested in a takeover of the social media platform. With such a powerful individual taking control, things are certainly going to change.