A day after revealing a multi-billion dollar investment in Twitter, Elon Musk has been appointed to a role on the social media platform’s board of directors. The announcement has users of the popular platform clamoring for change however it’s not clear that even Musk himself can bring about the change users are seeking.
Musk, 50, revealed on April 4 that he had purchased a 9.2 percent stake in the company making him the largest shareholder. He now controls a larger stake than Vanguard, Morgan Stanley, and BlackRock.
News of the purchase sent Twitter’s stock soaring by 27.1 percent in early trading as investors lined up to back the tech leader. The gains are the largest single-day percentage gain since the company went public in November 2013.
Musk did not disclose how much he paid for his stake however did say the purchase was worth $2.9 billion at the end of trading on Friday. His investment immediately paid off with his stake soaring in value to $3.5 billion early Monday.
Recently appointed Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted confirmation of Musk’s appointment on April 5 writing, “I’m excited to share that we’re appointing @elonmusk to our board! Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board,” to which Musk responded, “Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!”
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also tweeted a public statement concerning Musk’s appointment saying, “I’m really happy Elon is joining the Twitter board! He cares deeply about our world and Twitter’s role in it. Parag and Elon both lead with their hearts, and they will be an incredible team.”
The move comes after Musk had publicly mused about launching his own social media platform and after tweeting to his some 80.5 million followers, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy.”
Twitter users hopeful
While Musk has yet to announce any concrete changes he intends to use his influence to make, there is a laundry list of grievances users hope Musk will have the ability to address.
Top of mind for many is reinstating President Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Trump recently expressed his support for the tech leader saying at a rally in South Carolina that ,”Elon Musk is a guy that I like and respect.”
Trump was banned from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other large social media platforms following the January 6, 2021 riots in the U.S. Capitol.
Trump has not made any formal request to rejoin the platform however it would be a strategic advantage for him should he choose to run for the presidency again in 2024.
Now, pro-Trump vocies are calling on Musk to follow through with his free speech sentiments and right perceived wrongs.
Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted to her over 969.1k followers on Monday, “Now that @ElonMusk is Twitter’s largest shareholder, it’s time to lift the political censorship. Oh… and BRING BACK TRUMP”
The tweet garnered over 106k likes and was retweeted well over 1,000 times.
Another grievance that Musk himself has involved himself with concerns recently suspended satire account @BabylonBee.
Seth Dillion, CEO at Babylon Bee said on Monday that Twitter’s decision to suspend the Bee’s account may have been “the last straw” for Musk.
Dillion said that Musk contacted him directly after his company’s account was suspended over a satirical tweet naming Dr. Rachel Levine, a member of the trans community, it’s “Man of the Year.”
In conversation with the Washington Times Dillon said, “We have had some communication with Musk. He wanted to confirm that we had, in fact, been suspended from Twitter. He reached out to us before he publicly asked his followers if they think Twitter ‘rigorously adheres’ to the principle of free expression. He even mused on that call with us that he might need to buy Twitter.”
While there are big hopes that Musk’s influence will bring about change to the platform, the way the shares are structured do not bode well for Twitter users.
Unlike Mark Zuckerberg’s dual-class shares in Meta — that allows him to override Meta investors’ objections and do whatever he wants — Twitter only has one class of shares meaning Musk’s 9.2 percent stake affords him identical voting rights as Jack Dorsey who holds a 2.25 percent stake in the company.