North Texas Daily

Elon Musk acquires Twitter, shows billionaire impulse

Elon Musk acquires Twitter, shows billionaire impulse

Elon Musk acquires Twitter, shows billionaire impulse
April 28
11:00 2022

On April 25, Tesla CEO Elon Musk reached an agreement with Twitter to buy the social media outlet for roughly $44 billion to both the delight and chagrin of the internet.

It’s hard to tell exactly what a Musk-led Twitter will look like down the line. At first glance, the purchase comes off as little more than a crass impulse buy from a man who has paid a shallow bill of goods throughout the last decade. Given more thought, however, the potential implications become increasingly ominous, with the sanctity of free speech controlled by a man who has the subtlety of a flamethrower.

Big-time acquisitions happen all the time, though they are usually background noise in favor of whatever hellish occurrences news outlets prefer to focus on. The great outlier in this purchase is Musk himself, who has not only made a name for himself within the internet world but has truly changed the status quo of modern technology.

Love him or hate him, he is one of the most influential people in the world, with his companies Tesla and PayPal modernizing the auto and banking industries respectively. He is the richest man in the world with a net worth of $246.7 billion according to Forbes. His work ethic is otherworldly, working upwards of 120 hours a week. Handling a comically absurd workload as a father of seven and founder of multiple companies is to be commended, though it hardly validates his misuse of his power.

Case in point: proposing to the World Food Programme that he’d give $6 billion worth of sold Tesla stock to help solve world hunger. The WFP reportedly gave Musk its plans on what it’d do with that hefty sum and never saw a cent of the money. Ironically enough, Musk threw down the gauntlet in the form of a tweet.

It is yet another example of how the rich can influence and manipulate on their own accord. The $44 billion transaction for Twitter is but a drop in the bucket for Musk, illustrating yet another example of the economic disparity that defines today’s social climate.

It is baffling to see someone with such immense wealth not be vocally philanthropic. He reportedly donated $5.7 million last year, but no nonprofits have mentioned receiving anything from him or Tesla. For someone so outspoken, not having him tackle true social issues — namely student debt, socialized health care and, of course, world hunger — is telling.

It is incredibly disconcerting to see someone with Musk’s influence essentially make an impulse buy with a price tag equal to a small country’s gross domestic product. Those concerns become graver when one considers the subject of the purchase itself.

Twitter has become much more than a standard social media outlet — it is a digital soapbox for any and everyone, giving politicians and celebrities a platform to make themselves heard. It has the power to sway elections and make grand declarations known in a way traditional news outlets can only dream of. For many, it is their primary method of receiving news and being informed. As such, the implications of censorship and misinformation have been more prevalent than ever.

Regarding the self-described “free speech absolutist,” political commentators surmise that a Musk-led Twitter will somehow un-censor voices that have apparently been pushed to the wayside. He’s declared war on content moderation, which isn’t unnoble. Though Twitter is a private company and not beholden to the constitutional word of the first amendment, the platform would benefit from more transparency. Even so, moving toward that goal requires careful precision in an internet landscape that isn’t friendly toward subtlety or small actions. A slight misstep could inadvertently open the flood gates that will allow hate speech to become even more prevalent or worse, tolerated.

At the very least, Elon Musk’s blockbuster purchase of Twitter has sent shockwaves through the internet landscape. One can hope that his propensity to make absurdly grand affirmations will help mend a fractured social media outlet that has become an essential communication tool for world events. Hopefully, that is not wishful thinking, and his purchase of Twitter does minimize fake news and misinformation. He at least owns the drive and work ethic to make it seem feasible.

Even so, it’s that same wide-eyed ambition that is his Achilles heel, illustrating time and again a billionaire’s tendency to flaunt his wealth with little self-awareness. Regardless of what good or bad he may do, there is but one certainty: there still won’t be an edit button.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas 

Chart by Hannah Johnson. Information gathered from The Texas Tribune, the World Food Programme and the New York Times

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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