Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
Twitter, man, business.
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

Will Musk’s Twitter Bid — Win or Lose — Damage Twitter’s Power?

Stirring the pot, Musk recently slammed current media’s marked disinterest in who teen sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s prominent clients were …

Just in:Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter deal:

DETROIT (AP) — Elon Musk is threatening to walk away from his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter, accusing the company of refusing to give him information about its spam bot and fake accounts.

Lawyers for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO made the threat in a letter to Twitter dated Monday, and Twitter disclosed it in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The letter says Musk has repeatedly asked for the information since May 9, about a month after his offer to buy the company, so he could evaluate how many of the company’s 229 million accounts are fake.

Tom Krisher and Matt O’Brien , “Musk threatens to walk away from Twitter deal” at AP News (June 6, 2022)

Serious? Posturing? Read on…

Twitter shareholders are suing billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk for engineering a loss of value. Otherwise, the public standoff between him and Twitter’s board over the bots continues. But the true underlying issue behind his April 14 bid to buy the company is, of course, Musk’s proposal to turn Twitter into more of a free speech platform than Big Tech would like — assuming he ends up buying it at all.

At Slate, we are told that Wall Street thinks Musk will back out of the deal because Big Tech stocks such as Twitter and his own iconic Tesla have taken a beating in the market recently. None of it sustains the $54.20/share he originally offered to pay for Twitter. Big Tech investment analyst Daniel Ives offers,

It’s either a renegotiated, lower price for Twitter in the $42 to $45 range, or Musk tries to pay the billion-dollar breakup fee and walk away…

With Musk, any traditional rules in deals and negotiations do not apply, because of the way Elon is, and the Street knows that. Nothing about this has been a typical deal. It’s been a twilight zone environment, and also it’s been a head-scratcher why Elon even bought Twitter in the first place and spent 20 percent of his net worth. The bot issue really complicates the deal, because if fake accounts are 5 percent versus if they’re 20 percent or more, that dramatically changes the value of Twitter.

Alex Kirschner, “Why Wall Street Thinks Elon Musk Is Getting Out of the Twitter Deal” at Slate (June 2, 2022)

But some think the deal will creak ahead anyway:

Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter overcame another hurdle on Friday after the social media company said that a regulatory waiting period that is required for an antitrust review has expired.

The 30-day review period during which the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division were tasked with looking into the deal came and went on Friday, Twitter announced.

Ariel Zilber, “Elon Musk closer to buying Twitter after antitrust wait period expires” at New York Post (June 3, 2022)

In short, the U.S. government is signalling an intention to stay out of it.

Musk himself probably doesn’t know what will happen next. He put the deal to buy Twitter on hold pending more accurate numbers for bots (i.e., non-customers). He publicly doubts Twitter’s modest 5% figure, cited to government officials. It may be relevant that 70% of his own followers were found by a study to be bots, as were half of Joe Biden’s…

But perhaps there is an overlooked factor as well. Airing the “bots” issue could dramatically change public perception of the power of Twitter. People who have lived in terror lest one of the social medium’s legendary hatestorms destroy their careers may grow a spine when they suspect that much of the din is just bot noise.

Musk says he wants to add value by booting the bots. If, on buying the company, he succeeds, the hatestormers may need to find — or create — another social medium. And Twitter’s main competitor, Snap, isn’t even doing that well.

Many powerful social interests do not want Musk buying Twitter. These include Twitter employees, left-wing action coalitions, legacy media, and the European Union, which is developing tight new censorship rules.

But other players have also come to light. Tech mogul Bill Gates is said to have poured a vast sum into a fund aimed at stopping his competitor Musk’s acquisition:

Research exclusively shared with Breitbart News identifies hundreds of millions of dollars flowing from Bill Gates’ foundation to 11 of the 26 organizations that signed an open letter last month urging Twitter advertisers to boycott the company if Elon Musk restores free speech on the platform.

Breitbart News’ report, based on research and analysis from the newly-formed Foundation for Freedom Online (FFO), analyzed public filings to trace hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions from the letter signatories back to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Allum Bokhari, “EXCLUSIVE: Bill Gates Poured Millions into Dark Money Fund Attacking Elon Musk” at Breitbart News (May 23, 2022)

Breitbart adds, “Gates is also an outspoken censorship proponent, frequently calling on tech companies to do more to stop “health misinformation” spreading online.”

Of course, in a competing accusation, companies associated with the Chinese Communist Party are said to be helping to bankroll Musk’s purchase:

Chinese Communist Party-linked companies and investment funds are listed amongst the financiers of Elon Musk’s bid to purchase Twitter, a new Securities and Exchange Commission document reveals.

The revelation comes from a May 4th amendment filed by Musk which shows over one dozen equity investors – either people or companies funding his purchase in exchange for a share of ownership – in Twitter.

Natalie Winters, “Chinese Communist Party-Linked Companies Amongst Investors In Elon Musk’s Twitter Purchase” at National Pulse (May 6, 2022)

Realistically, Bill Gates probably has far more public influence in creating and maintaining censorship in the United States than companies with shadowy links to the CCP. The current controversy mainly shows that censorship is much more popular than it used to be.

Meanwhile, Musk is — as so often — filling in time by prodding the sacred cows:

In a series of tweets on June 4, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said it is “remarkable” how the U.S. Department of Justice has not published the list of clients of convicted sex offender Epstein and his co-conspirator Maxwell, a convicted sex trafficker. The pair were accused of procuring, trafficking, sexually abusing a vast network of female minors as young as 11.

What is more “remarkable,” Musk said, is that “no one in the media cares” about the Epstein-Maxwell case.

Gary Bai, “Elon Musk Says ‘No One in the Media Cares’ About Exposing Jeffrey Epstein’s Alleged Clients” at Epoch Times Canada (June 4, 2022)

Musk knows perfectly well that it is not so much that no one in current media “cares” as that most of them have a heavy investment in protecting “good guys” like Bill Gates — around whom rumors swirl in this area — and other icons as well. A bit of protective censorship can come in very handy. Stay tuned.

You may also wish to read:

Could Elon Musk really banish the Twitterbots? Assuming he buys Twitter, industry opinion is divided as to whether his ambitious plan can succeed. Professional bot hunters say that the problem is much more complex than many suppose. But if Musk can bust down the firm’s cost, he could develop new software.

Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul; and with neurosurgeon Michael Egnor of the forthcoming The Human Soul: What Neuroscience Shows Us about the Brain, the Mind, and the Difference Between the Two (Worthy, 2025). She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

Will Musk’s Twitter Bid — Win or Lose — Damage Twitter’s Power?