Elon Musk, long-time whiny tweeter, is now Twitter’s largest shareholder

The world’s richest man is now a shot-caller for the website he loves to complain about.

GRUENHEIDE, GERMANY - MARCH 22: (Alternate crop of #1239417601) Tesla CEO Elon Musk contemplates dur...
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The paradox of Twitter is as follows: There are millions of people (myself included) who are deeply addicted to a social media platform which serves as a digital agora, real-time news service, communal hive mind, and general time-suck. At the same time, there’s no doubt that Twitter is a deeply flawed medium, rank with unchecked bigotry, wild arcs of disinformation, and a penchant for doing the exact opposite of what users actually want.

With that in mind, does anyone on Earth think Elon Musk — a man whose astronomical wealth and fame comes largely from making beep-boop cars that don’t work so good — will somehow make the good parts of Twitter better, and the bad parts of Twitter less bad, now that he’s become the company’s largest shareholder?

The revelation that Tesla and SpaceX founder Musk purchased just over 9% of Twitter, made public in an SEC filing Monday, sent the company’s stock prices soaring (at time of writing, it’s up more than 25% since business opened this morning) while bringing to a close one chapter of the tech mogul’s ongoing bellyaching about the site and opening another. While it’s unclear what Musk plans to do with his sizable share of the company, worth around $3 billion, The New York Times has already begun speculating that the recent purchase could be his opening salvo in a larger attempt to buy Twitter outright — particularly in light of his recent musing that “a new platform” might be needed.

Despite his almost pathological need to complain about Twitter, other people’s tweets, and pretty much everything else, Musk is largely friendly with outgoing company CEO Jack Dorsey, and even offered some good-natured advice that the site do something to reign in its “bot” problem during a 2020 industry conference.

For the time being, it’s unclear what Musk’s new shareholder status means for a site that, for better or worse, sits at the center of how millions of people experience the internet. But given who Musk is, and how he does what he does, it’s easy to imagine that things might get a lot worse for everyone on the site who isn’t a mega-billionaire.