Has Elon Musk given up on his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter and make it a haven for free speech?
Apparently not, according to the Washington Post, which reported that after a weeks-long impasse, the Big Tech platform’s board will comply with Musk’s demand to have access to data he says is needed to determine the number of fake users.
Citing a source familiar with the company’s thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Post said the information could be provided as soon as this week.
Musk’s legal team argued in a letter Monday to Twitter that the amount of spam and bot activity on its platform influences the company’s ad revenue and, therefore, its value.
With the deal on hold, speculation has arisen that Musk is trying to pull out or renegotiate for a lower price.
Twitter’s leadership has argued that the data stream sought by Musk has been available for years as companies are able to purchase it to analyze trends.
In the letter to Twitter, Musk’s lawyers said the billionaire entrepreneur “must have a complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter’s business model — its active user base.”
“Twitter’s latest offer to simply provide additional details regarding the company’s own testing methodologies, whether through written materials or verbal explanations, is tantamount to refusing Mr. Musk’s data requests,” the lawyers wrote.
Twitter spokesman Scott Bisang said in a statement Monday that the company “has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.
“We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders. We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms.”
In April, news of Musk’s $44 billion purchase prompted anger, sorrow and contempt from the left.
New York Times columnist and MSNBC contributor Charles M. Blow said he now will severely limit his engagement on Twitter.
“At some point Twitter may have been a town square of ideas. It’s not that now. Now it’s a cesspool of bots, screamers, conspiracists, and the perpetually angry. Very little is gained by engaging, and too much is lost,” he wrote.
A Twitter user who responded to Blow’s tweet said Musk’s purchase “will be a huge, unimaginable loss for freedom, democracy and humanity as a whole,”
“Not sure if we will be able to carry on,” the user wrote. “Only time will tell.”
Watergate figure John W. Dean, who served as President Nixon’s counsel, said he’s not sure he is “interested in Twitter if Elon Musk owns it.”
As news spread that the sale was imminent, Nikki Finke, founder and editor emeritus of Deadline.com, asked: “So if/when Elon Musk takes control of Twitter and turns it into a malevolent mouthpiece, where should Democrats and Progressives go for free speech on social media? An existing site or do we start our own?”
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Dean Obeidallah, the host of an eponymous SiriusXM show, said Musk’s purchase of Twitter “is a dream come true for white nationalists.”
“After all musk is from the former apartheid country of South Africa which the white supremacists idolize,” he wrote.
Activist Shaun King sounded a similar note, saying Musk’s desire to purchase Twitter “is not about left vs right.”
“It’s about white power. The man was raised in Apartheid by a white nationalist. He’s upset that Twitter won’t allow white nationalists to target/harass people. That’s his definition of free speech.”
King wrote that Musk “has openly called himself a ‘free speech absolutist’ and said that he wants to create a space where anything can be said about anyone.”
“That’s why white nationalists are giddy today,” he said. “Here on Twitter and other platforms that I track daily. It’s dangerous.”
In contrast, figures who had been banned for speech that countered the establishment narrative on issues such as the 2020 election and the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Dr. Robert Malone, were optimistic.
Malone told WND in a text that he looked forward to seeing the types of changes to the Twitter platform that Musk has been discussing.
“Maybe the tide will turn now on the likes of Spotify, Linked In, and even old creaky legacy media publications that prefer censorship, propaganda and defamation to an open society that values free speech,” he said.
Malone said Musk’s purchase is an important step forward for Americans “to rescue the common town hall which Twitter has come to represent from the grasp of those who demand censorship and propaganda as a way to protect themselves from encountering other viewpoints that challenge their own beliefs and assumptions.”
Author and TV/radio host Mark Levin rejoined the Twitter conversation after a voluntary absence.
“Thanks to new ownership, I’ve decided to come back!” he wrote.
However, as news broke that a deal was imminent, former President Trump told Fox News on Monday he will not return to Twitter but instead will formally join his own TRUTH Social platform in the next week, as planned.
“I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on TRUTH,” Trump said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., called for the restoration of her account along with the accounts of Trump, Malone, InfoWars founder Alex Jones and activist Milo Yiannopoulos.
Bring back President Trump.
Bring back my personal account.
Bring back Dr. Robert Malone.
Bring back Alex Jones.
Bring back Milo Yiannopoulos.
Bring back the cancelled nation.
Bring back freedom of speech.
Bring back America!
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) April 25, 2022
Greene’s account was suspended by Twitter in January after the company charged she had violated its COVID “misinformation policies.”
The lawmaker tweeted about “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths,” posting a chart based on the data in the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS.
Twitter said Greene was permanently banned after a “fifth strike.” Previously, she violated the company’s policies by distributing posts saying the vaccines should not be mandated, arguing the survival rate for COVID-19 is high for most people and the shots were “failing.”
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) April 25, 2022
Musk said in a statement after closing the deal that free speech is “the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever,” he said.
He promised new features, such as “making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots and authenticating all humans.”
But Twitter employees on Monday, reported journalist Andy Ngô, say they are “sick of hearing about “free speech” and are “concerned about their mental health,” according to sources.
Ngô, known for his coverage of Antifa, said Twitter employees “on internal chats indicate their biggest fear is Donald Trump being unbanned” and many express “strong hatred” toward Musk.
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