A report published in the Wall Street Journal claims that Musk’s decision to buy Twitter was influenced by a shadow crew of billionaires.
Elon Musk responded on May 1 to a report in The Wall Street Journal based on anonymous sources that said a “shadow crew” had persuaded the world’s richest man to buy Twitter.
On Twitter, Marc Andreessen, general partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, tweeted a screenshot of the story, leading Musk to respond.
“My Shadow Crew is sickkk! Also, who are they again?” Musk tweeted.
My Shadrow Crew is sickkk!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 2, 2022
Also, who are they again?
“Sell Shadow Crew merch to buy Twitter?” Musk followed up with a question in the same thread.
For months, Musk has been a vocal opponent of Twitter’s content moderation practices. He’s taken to Twitter to criticize the company’s performance, ranging from censorship claims to shadowbans. Musk polled his followers at the end of March 2022, saying, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?”
The majority of people said no.
According to the Journal, a number of people encouraged Tesla CEO Elon Musk to invest in the faltering tech company. The “shadow crew” includes Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, billionaire investor Peter Thiel, entrepreneur David Sacks, and early Tesla investor and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, according to the newspaper. According to the story, Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, pushed for Musk to buy a share in the microblogging site.
Musk declined to be interviewed for the story, and the Journal admitted early on that “it isn’t clear whether he took any of their advice to heart or merely followed his own gut.”
Musk contacted Seth Dillon, the CEO of conservative satirical news outlet The Babylon Bee, in March, according to the article. Musk had enquired about the publication’s suspension from Twitter following a message that referred to a transgender lady as “Man of the Year.”
Musk is said to have joked to Dillon that he might need to buy Twitter.
Musk had ostensibly kept his decision under wraps until the day before his plans were made public.
“Over dinner in a private dining room at a local restaurant, Mr. Musk didn’t show much interest in talking about Twitter, one attendee said. Instead, he asked those at the table to share their theories about the meaning of life,” the Journal reported. “The next day, Mr. Musk disclosed that he was seeking to take over Twitter.”
Musk’s definition of free speech is being debated in the public town square.
In a tweet on April 26, Musk reiterated his position on free speech.
“By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people,” he wrote.
The Response to Free Speech on Twitter
Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has sparked mixed reactions, with supporters and opponents on both sides praising or jeering. Following Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the company noticed a spike in follower counts, which included bulk deactivations, reactivations, and new account creations.
Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have congratulated Musk.
It was dubbed “the most important development for free speech in decades” by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has written to Musk, requesting that he investigate internal efforts to suspend users and downrank stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
“The left doesn’t want you to speak. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that ” if you don’t agree with them, you’re not allowed to talk.” “That all changes today with Elon Musk owning Twitter.”
Some Democrats are considering holding hearings on Musk’s Twitter intentions, citing the site’s significance in public conversation. “We’re thinking about it,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, to Bloomberg.
A hearing with Musk is critical, according to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), a member of the commerce committee.
“It’s a technology which is central to democracy and our economy and it is important for the representatives of the American people to hear what the new owners intend on using that technology to accomplish,” he told Bloomberg. “We have to understand the censorship or lack thereof, content moderation or not, that is going to be the policy for the new owner.”
“In terms of what the values are that this company is going to be creating for the new Elon Musk Twitter world, I think that’s actually a necessary role for Congress to play.”
Musk confirmed his support for former President Barack Obama in reaction to a series of tweets about the ideological shift in US politics.
“I strongly supported Obama for President, but today’s Democratic Party has been hijacked by extremists,” he said.
Musk has also expressed his displeasure with the extremes of the left and right, urging “less hate and more love.”
Musk’s Twitter takeover, according to a majority of Americans, “will lead to greater free speech on the platform.”
According to a new Ipsos poll, 39% of Twitter users think Musk will improve the platform. Twenty-eight % of nonusers say he will enhance the website.
According to heavy users, 52% feel Musk’s engagement will improve the quality of conversation, while 29% believe it would worsen.
Seventy-three percent of all survey participants agree that posts containing incorrect information should be removed. However, there is a divide on whether or not to delete political tweets: 47 percent support the practice, while 40 percent oppose it.
“Compared with our survey results in early April, views toward the role of social media platforms in removing certain types of content remain unchanged,” the polling firm noted.
Elon Musk’s deal with Twitter hasn’t been finalized yet, and it could take months to complete. Under certain situations, Twitter will be obliged to pay a $1 billion termination fee if the agreement is terminated; Musk will be charged the same fee if the deal is terminated.