Twitter faces the ‘nightmare’ of being forced into free speech

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  xxjefferson51  •  one month ago  •  33 comments

By:   Jonathan Turley

Twitter faces the ‘nightmare’ of being forced into free speech
Thus, an outbreak of free speech could have dire consequences for many in the political-corporate-media triumvirate. For them, the greatest danger is that Musk could be right and Twitter would become a more popular, more profitable company selling a free speech product. Poison pill maneuvers are often used to force a potential buyer to negotiate with the board. However, Twitter’s directors (who include Agrawal and Dorsey) have previously limited their product to advance their own political...

Free speech is anathema and public enemy #1 to the bi coastal secular progressive urban elites.  They love using gatekeepers so that media, traditional and social can silence the middle and working class rubes from flyover heartland America from freely expressing their religious and political beliefs and opinion. Turley is right about what he says below.  


S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Twitter faces the ‘nightmare’ of being forced into free speech


Twitter’s board of directors gathered this week to sign what sounds like a suicide pact. It unanimously voted to swallow a “poison pill” to tank the value of the social media giant’s shares rather than allow billionaire Elon Musk to buy the company.

The move is one way to fend off hostile takeovers, but what is different in this case is the added source of the hostility: Twitter and many liberals are apoplectic over Musk’s call for free speech protections on the site. 

Company boards have a fiduciary duty to do what is best for shareholders, which usually is measured in share values. Twitter has long done the opposite. It has virtually written off many conservatives — and a large portion of its prospective market — with years of arbitrary censorship of dissenting views on everything from gender identity to global warming, election fraud and the pandemic. Most recently, Twitter  suspended a group, Libs of Tik Tok , for “hateful conduct.” The conduct? Reposting what liberals have said about themselves.

The company seemingly has written off free speech too. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal was  asked  how Twitter would balance its efforts to combat misinformation with wanting to “protect free speech as a core value” and to respect the First Amendment. He responded dismissively that the company is “not to be bound by the First Amendment” and will regulate content as “reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation.” Agrawal said the company would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.”

Not surprisingly, selling censorship is not a big hit with most consumers, particularly from a communications or social media company. The actions of Twitter’s management have led to roller-coastering share values. While Twitter once reached a high of about $73 a share , it is currently around $45 . (Musk was offering $54.20 a share , representing a 54 percent premium over the share price the day before he invested in the company.)

Notably, Musk will not trigger the poison pill if he stays below 15 percent ownership of the company. He could push his present stake up to 14.9 percent and then negotiate with other shareholders to take greater control.

Another problem is that Twitter  long sought a private buyer  under former CEO Jack Dorsey. If Musk increases his bid closer to $60, the board could face liability in putting its interests ahead of the company’s shareholders.

Putting aside the magical share number, Musk is right that the company’s potential has been constrained by its woke management. For social media companies, free speech is not only ethically but economically beneficial — because the censorship model only works if you have an effective monopoly in which customers have no other choice. That is how Henry Ford could tell customers, back when he controlled car-making, that they could have any color of Model T “as long as it’s black.”

Of course, the Model T’s color was not a critical part of the product. On the other hand, Twitter is a communications company selling censorship — and opposing free speech as a social media company is a little like Ford opposing cars.

The public could be moving beyond Twitter’s Model T philosophy, however, with many people looking for access to an open, free forum for discussions.

Censorship — or “content modification,” as used in polite company — is not value maximizing for Twitter, but it is status enhancing for executives such as Agrawal. It does not matter that consumers of his product want less censorship; the company has become captive to its executives’ agendas.

Twitter is not alone in pursuing such self-defeating values. Many in the mainstream media and many on the left have become some of the loudest advocates for corporate censorship. The Washington Post’s Max Boot, for example,  declared , “For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” MSNBC’s Katy Tur  warned  that reintroducing free speech values on Twitter could produce “massive, life- and globe-altering consequences for just letting people run wild on the thing.” 

Columnist and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich   went full Orwellian  in explaining why freedom is tyranny. Reich dismissed calls for free speech and warned that censorship is “necessary to protect American democracy.” He then delivered a line that would make Big Brother blush: “That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.”

The problem comes when you sell fear for too long and at too high a price. Recently, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.)  agreed with MSNBC analyst John Heilemann  that Democrats have to “scare the crap out of [voters] and get them to come out.”

That line is not selling any better for the media than it is for social media, however. Trust in the media is at a record low, with  only 7 percent expressing great trust  in what is being reported. The United States  ranks last in media trust among 46 nations

Just as the public does not want social media companies to control their views, it does not want the media to shape its news. In  one recent poll , “76.3% of respondents from all political affiliations said that ‘the primary focus of the mainstream media’s coverage of current events is to advance their own opinions or political agendas.'”

Thus, an outbreak of free speech could have dire consequences for many in the political-corporate-media triumvirate. For them, the greatest danger is that Musk could be right and Twitter would become a more popular, more profitable company selling a free speech product. 

Poison pill maneuvers are often used to force a potential buyer to negotiate with the board. However, Twitter’s directors (who include Agrawal and Dorsey) have previously limited their product to advance their own political preferences. This time, federal law may force them to fulfill their fiduciary duties, even at the cost of supporting free speech. The problem for the board will occur when the “nightmare” of free speech comes in at $60 a share.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter  @JonathanTurley .


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XXJefferson51
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1  seeder  XXJefferson51    one month ago
the added source of the hostility: Twitter and many liberals are apoplectic over Musk’s call for free speech protections on the site.  Company boards have a fiduciary duty to do what is best for shareholders, which usually is measured in share values. Twitter has long done the opposite. It has virtually written off many conservatives — and a large portion of its prospective market — with years of arbitrary censorship of dissenting views on everything from gender identity to global warming, election fraud and the pandemic. Most recently, Twitter suspended a group, Libs of Tik Tok, for “hateful conduct.” The conduct? Reposting what liberals have said about themselves.
 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    one month ago

Its remarkable how closely Turley adheres to right wing ideology no matter what the topic is. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.1  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @2    one month ago

Do you have anything other than trashing the author?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Texan1211 @2.1    one month ago

Its sad to see a one time somewhat respectable law professor resort to defending conspiracy nuts, crackpots and far right extremists. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
2.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.1    one month ago

what in this article is any of those things?

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.1.3  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.1    one month ago

Because it’s better to use content control and gate keeper censorship to silence those we disagree with rather than engage their speech with more speech as the founders intended. 

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.2  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  JohnRussell @2    one month ago

Since when did the 1st amendment and the concept of free speech become right wing ideology?  We’ll take it as ours though….

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
2.2.1  MrFrost  replied to  XXJefferson51 @2.2    one month ago

Since when did the 1st amendment and the concept of free speech become right wing ideology?  We’ll take it as ours though….

The minute that they thought that the 1st amendment applies to privately owned companies. 

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.2.2  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  MrFrost @2.2.1    one month ago

It does when private companies act as agents of the government to silence and censor views and opinions opposed by or disliked by said government or its representatives or they take a side in political matters for one and silence the other.  

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
2.2.3  MrFrost  replied to  XXJefferson51 @2.2.2    one month ago
It does when private companies

No, it doesn't. It's privately owned. They are free to make any rules they see fit. Sorry! 

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
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2.2.4  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  MrFrost @2.2.3    one month ago

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XXJefferson51
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2.2.5  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  MrFrost @2.2.3    one month ago

But if they work in league with government to silence and censor the opposite then both can be sued for relief under the 1st amendment.  Justice Thomas has already expressed interest in seeing the Supreme Court explore this matter.  

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.3  Vic Eldred  replied to  JohnRussell @2    one month ago

Free speech is a right wing concept?

Ok.

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
3  MrFrost    one month ago

Musk's idea of free speech would be a nightmare, that's true. What I don't get is why don't the cons just go to Parler, GETTR, TruthSocial, etc. Lot's of other places to go. Oh wait, they are all failures.

.

None of this fantasy is going to come true if Twitter flat out refuses to sell to Musk, or, changes the rules, (which they have already done). 

Twitter Counters a Musk Takeover With a Time-Tested Barrier

The company is intent on fending off the billionaire’s bid to buy it in a deal that could be worth more than $40 billion.

  • April 15, 2022

Twitter does not want to become a plaything of the world’s richest person.

So on Friday, it turned to a tried-and-tested corporate defense mechanism invented in the 1980s — the heyday of the corporate raider — to block a potential takeover attempt by Elon Musk and buy its board some time.

The mechanism, known as a poison pill, has a simple intention: to make it less palatable for a potential buyer to pursue the target company if the buyer accumulates shares above a certain threshold. In Twitter’s case, if Mr. Musk bought more than 15 percent of the company, Twitter would flood the market with new stock that all shareholders except Mr. Musk could buy at a discounted price.

That would immediately dilute Mr. Musk’s stake and make it significantly more expensive for him to buy the company. Mr. Musk currently owns a little more than 9 percent of Twitter’s stock.

Twitter said its plan would be in place for just shy of one year. The tool will not stop the company from holding talks with any potential buyer, and will give it more time to negotiate a deal that Twitter’s board believes best reflects the company’s value.

The strategy “does not mean that the company is going to be independent forever,” said Drew Pascarella, a senior lecturer of finance at Cornell University. “It just means that they can effectively fend off Elon.”

Twitter is weighing whether to invite bids from others, two people close to the company said. Should it decide to court buyers, Silver Lake, a private equity firm that already owns a significant stake in Twitter, could be a possibility, the people said. Silver Lake, a technology-focused buyout fund, has more $90 billion in assets under management, and a managing partner there, Egon Durban, sits on Twitter’s board.

Silver Lake  has come to Twitter’s rescue  before. In 2020, when Elliott Management, an activist investor, amassed shares in Twitter and wanted it to make changes, Silver Lake helped the parties reach a compromise. As part of the deal, Silver Lake invested $1 billion in Twitter.

But Silver Lake also agreed at the time not to acquire more than 5 percent of the company, so Twitter would have to waive that so-called standstill agreement before it could entertain any offer from Silver Lake. It’s also not clear whether Silver Lake, which has its own history with Mr. Musk, having worked on his unsuccessful effort to take Tesla private, will offer a deal or has the financing necessary to do so on its own.

Silver Lake declined to comment.

At least one other private equity firm, Thoma Bravo, is weighing a possible offer for Twitter, Reuters reported and a person familiar with Thoma Bravo confirmed.

Poison pills have been around for decades. The lawyer Martin Lipton, a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, invented the maneuver, also called a shareholder rights plan, in 1982. It was a way to shore up a company’s defenses against unwanted takeovers by so-called corporate raiders like Carl Icahn and T. Boone Pickens.

They have since become a part of the corporate tool kit in America. Netflix adopted a poison pill in 2012 to stop Mr. Icahn from buying up its shares. Papa John’s used one against the pizza chain’s founder and chairman, John Schnatter, in 2018.

Investors rarely try to get around a poison pill by buying shares beyond the threshold set by the company, according to securities experts. One said it would be “financially ruinous,” even for Mr. Musk.

But Mr. Musk, who is worth more than $250 billion and is the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, rarely abides by precedent. He announced his intention to acquire Twitter on Thursday, making public an unsolicited bid worth more than $40 billion. In an interview at a TED conference later that day, he took issue with Twitter’s moderation policies, which govern the content shared on the platform.

Twitter is the “de facto town square,” Mr. Musk said, adding that “it’s really important that people have the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.” Twitter currently bans many types of content, including spam, threats of violence, the sharing of private information and coordinated disinformation campaigns.

Mr. Musk argued that taking Twitter private would allow more free speech to flow on the platform. “My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” he said during the TED interview. He also insisted that the algorithm Twitter uses to rank its content, deciding what hundreds of millions of users see on the service every day, should be public for users to audit.

Mr. Musk’s concerns are shared by many executives at Twitter, who have also pressed for more transparency about its algorithms. The company has published internal research about bias in its algorithms and funded an effort to create an open, transparent standard for social media services.

On Friday, Twitter said its board, which includes Jack Dorsey, a co-founder of Twitter who is friendly with Mr. Musk, voted unanimously to approve the shareholder rights plan. Twitter is working with two Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, people familiar with the matter said, as it weighs its options. Mr. Musk is working with Morgan Stanley.

Mr. Musk said at the TED conference that if Twitter’s board rejected his offer, he had a Plan B, though he did not share it. Already, analysts have said that his bid — which offers significantly more per share than the current stock price but is well below its peak last year — may undervalue the company and that he may need to raise it. They have also raised concerns about Mr. Musk’s ability to cobble together financing.

Mr. Musk could challenge the poison pill in court, but that’s unlikely to be successful, said Edward Rock, a professor of corporate governance at the New York University School of Law.

“The first question will be: Does this bid pose a threat to Twitter and shareholders? And there are lots and lots of arguments they can make that it does pose a threat,” Mr. Rock said.

Mr. Musk seemed to be girding for a protracted fight. When he notified the board of his bid on Wednesday, he said that it was his “best and final offer” and that he would “reconsider my position as a shareholder” if it was rejected.

But at the TED conference on Thursday, he acknowledged that he did not like to lose. And later in the day, he took to his favorite social media platform: “Taking Twitter private at $54.20 should be up to shareholders, not the board,” he tweeted, alongside a Yes/No poll.

(read more here)

Musk isn't dumb, and he has money, why not just create his own 'Twitter'? Because he knows, like the rest of us, it will turn into a right wing echo chamber and with no one to argue with, it will fail, just like all the others. 

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
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3.1  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  MrFrost @3    one month ago

Musk simply intends to take Twitter back to what it was intended to be like it was before it became a content control censorship tool.  

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Principal
3.1.1  MrFrost  replied to  XXJefferson51 @3.1    one month ago

Privately owned, they are entitled to make whatever rules they want. If they wish to censor hate speech, they can. What you are advocating for is called socialism. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  MrFrost @3.1.1    one month ago

so they can make whatever rules they want???

lol!

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
3.1.3  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.2    one month ago

As long as they content control and censor Christians, conservatives, 2020 election skeptics, man caused global warming skeptics, believers in literal creation and global flood and angels, and those opposed in any way to the fascist Fauci cult of control freaks, they will be happy.  The whole point of gate keepers, “fact checkers”, etc is for no other reason that to content control and censor viewpoints that they are intolerant of and have no interest in debate or dialogue with those points of view.  That’s why they are so threatened by free speech at Twitter and hate it so much.  

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
3.1.4  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.2    one month ago

Unless Musk successfully buys Twitter.  Then government through the Biden regulatory regime will be all into interfering with what a private company does 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.5  Texan1211  replied to  XXJefferson51 @3.1.3    one month ago

The whole "They can make whatever rules they want" is a farce at best and an out-and-out fib at least.

Can you even imagine the outcry and hysteria from some folks if Twitter said "No more white people allowed" or "No more black people allowed"?

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
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3.1.6  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.5    one month ago
mrz041722dAPR-390x220.jpg
Michael RamirezApril 17, 2022
0

Getting Pooped On

See more Ramirez (@Ramireztoons) HERE.

Read More »
 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
3.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  MrFrost @3    one month ago
Twitter does not want to become a plaything of the world’s richest person.

Twitter did not want to allow free speech nor did it want it's algorithm examined..

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4  JBB    one month ago

Any contention that a major gazillion dollar publicity traded social media site is going to go unmoderated for political reasons is preposterous. Nobody wants that. Not the users! Not advertisers! Not stock holders!

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
4.1  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  JBB @4    one month ago

I’m sure that Musk knows what he’s doing.  I am a small shareholder of Twitter and I’m sure that there are others that bought shares like I did because he did with the intent of aiding him in a hostile takeover over the board’s objections to the contrary.  As to Musk and his free speech speech absolutist ideals, he’s right and I’m sure he knows how to implement that within reason as well.  

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
5  Tacos!    one month ago

I see no particular reason to assume that Elon Musk wants to be a champion of free speech. I have no doubt he will fight hard to support his own speech, but what about the speech of others? Especially those who disagree with or offend him?

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
5.1  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Tacos! @5    one month ago

I’ll take him at his word when describing himself to be a free speech absolutist and answered issues just like you raised during a presentation around the time he announced his takeover bid.  Elon Musk is a quirky libertarian and it seems free speech is a huge priority for him.  

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
5.1.1  Ender  replied to  XXJefferson51 @5.1    one month ago
free speech absolutist

Do you know what that means?

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
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5.1.2  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Ender @5.1.1    one month ago

It’s preferable to idiots and asses in the msm and democrat party who think that free speech is the biggest threat to democracy and the worst jerk of all who said that for “democracy to survive we need more content moderation, not less”. How utterly imbecilic and moronic an idea that is.  Max Boot…jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif🤬

 
 
 
Ender
Professor Principal
5.1.3  Ender  replied to  XXJefferson51 @5.1.2    one month ago

So, if they went the absolutist route, you know then people can call for death threats. I could call you every name in the book while telling you to do horrible things to yourself and you couldn't even report it to management.

So go ahead and get what you ask for. You would be crawling back here to where you could flag.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
5.1.4  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Ender @5.1.3    one month ago

That wasn’t happening on Twitter through 2017 and there will still be rules so that one can’t break the law or yell fire in a crowded theater, or wish someone dead. That didn’t happen before Twitter became a censorship and content controlling company.  

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
5.1.5  Tacos!  replied to  XXJefferson51 @5.1    one month ago
I’ll take him at his word when describing himself to be a free speech absolutist

Why? Have you seen him defend speech he disagreed with or that personally offended him?

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
5.1.6  seeder  XXJefferson51  replied to  Tacos! @5.1.5    one month ago

Yes in his TED talk around the time he was about to begin his offer to buy the company.  The issue is why is it your default position to question his sincerity and honesty on this matter?  Do you favor censorship and content control by the establishment?  

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
5.1.7  Tacos!  replied to  XXJefferson51 @5.1.6    one month ago
Yes in his TED talk around the time he was about to begin his offer to buy the company.

Feel free to elaborate and support that idea.

The issue is why is it your default position to question his sincerity and honesty on this matter?

No, that’s actually not the issue. I said I see no reason to assume he is a genuine champion of free speech. That truth remains. I still have yet to see a reason.

Do you favor censorship and content control by the establishment?  

That’s a dumb question since I have been taking the opposite position.

 
 

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