Twitter may take a wrong turn for the worse

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Tom Kirvan
Legal News, Editor-in-Chief

 

Before the word “twitter” needed to be capitalized, it was a seldom-used expression that meant chirping, chattering, or quivering, depending on whether it was in the form of a noun or a verb.

Now, Twitter (note the capital “T”) is as much a part of the modern-day tech lexicon as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and the like. These so-called “social media” sites have collectively transformed the way people communicate, serving as vehicles for instantly sharing information via photos, videos, and general musings. In many cases, for all the world to see.

It didn’t seem all that long ago that people tended to protect their privacy, tightly guarding their innermost thoughts and family secrets. Now such cloak-and-dagger stuff has gone the way of your father’s prized Oldsmobile. The techno-age has indeed arrived when grizzled old politicians are tweeting more than they are glad-handing potential voters on the rubber chicken circuit. It’s all about forging a digital identity.

Newspapers and magazines across the land have embraced the trend, creating their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in hopes of luring readers that habitually, periodically, or only occasionally surf the web. They, in totality, are a prized catch.

Which is why the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, wants to buy Twitter, reportedly offering $44 billion in a takeover bid for the company.

Twitter, which became a publicly traded company in the fall of 2013 when it launched an IPO (Initial Public Offering), served in recent years as an over-sized megaphone for a certain president, who used it freely to bash critics, announce hirings and firings, reveal major policy changes, and to egg-on his political base until the social media giant said “enough is enough” after he helped incite a riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Shortly thereafter, a disgraced ex-president without Twitter became the proverbial emperor without clothes, leaving him breathless as he attempted to promote baseless claims about a “stolen election” and corresponding “witch hunts” over a series of investigations into his crumbling financial empire.

Now, if the Musk takeover plan is successful, the top dog at the electric car company Tesla reportedly has said that Twitter will allow those who play free and loose with the truth to begin tweeting again – all in the name of unfettered free speech. 

Musk, who in recent years has been one of Twitter’s most brazen users, wants his new toy to be “an inclusive arena for free speech,” which is code for “anything goes” and the “truth be damned,” especially if it has the potential to line his pockets even more. 

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it has begun an investigation in Musk’s purchases of Twitter stock, questioning whether he properly disclosed his intentions to pursue control of the company.  Initially, he said that he was merely a “passive investor,” but less than two weeks later he offered to buy Twitter outright, a turnabout that is further indication of his disdain for the truth.

Despite all this, critics of Musk offer a slight glimmer of hope that his plans will be derailed, not necessarily by some federal regulatory agency. Instead, they look to the vast frontiers of outer space, a place that Musk has had his eyes on since founding SpaceX two decades ago. 

That California-based company is in the space transportation business, reportedly employing more than 12,000 workers in efforts to design, manufacture, and launch the best rockets and spacecraft known to man. Perhaps one of those space modules will contain Musk, speeding to a faraway destination where his desire to explore the limitless bounds of free speech would be far better served.





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