Billionaire Elon Musk has become the largest shareholder of Twitter, as reported by the Financial Times. In a document filed with the Social and Exchange Commission, Twitter reports that Musk now owns 73,486,938 shares of the company – 9.2 percent of Twitter’s stock. That’s more than former CEO and founder Jack Dorsey.
Musk's stake is worth $2.89 billion, according to TIME magazine.
The news comes after Musk took to Twitter last week to poll his 80 million followers asking if they believed that Twitter rigorously adheres to the principle that “Free Speech is essential to a functioning democracy.” Just over 70 percent of participants voted no.
Free speech is the principle that individuals or even communities should be free to express their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction from governments. The supposed lack of freedom of speech and "cancel culture" has been the focus of many social media campaigns – especially in right-wing circles – following Twitter's (and subsequently other social media platforms') ban of Donald Trump. However, freedom of speech is not absolute, and it doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.
Examples of limitations to freedom of speech inscribed in law are perjury, libel, slander, hate speech, and revealing state secrets. As a businessman, Musk will likely appreciate that things such as copyright violations, trade secrets, and non-disclosure agreements are not covered by freedom of speech.
Food and medicine labeling are also not covered under the freedom of speech principle and the right to privacy, dignity, the right to be forgotten, public security, and others are excluded too. Twitter, as a private company, is not held to government rules and regulations and users sign the terms of conditions of the company before joining it.
Musk has used his Twitter platform to air many controversial views, including the Pyramids of Giza were built by aliens, the COVID-19 pandemic would be over by April 2020, and calling one of the 2018 Thai cave rescuers “a pedo”, for which he was sued for defamation and won, a landmark case that tested the waters of defamatory material and "freedom of speech" on social media.