by David Auerbach
Monday, 11
July 2022
Analysis
15:03

Elon Musk has embarrassed Twitter

Deal or no deal, the tech giant is still bending the knee to the Tesla CEO
by David Auerbach
Credit: Getty

The real reason as to why Elon Musk backed out of the Twitter deal may never come to light. Certainly the stated reason, that Twitter vastly understated the number of bots on their network, is insultingly weak, highly unlikely to meet the “material adverse impact” standard needed to scuttle the deal in court. Perhaps he wanted to renegotiate a cheaper price or cover his stock option sales. Or maybe he just wanted to do it for the sake of it. Much of Musk’s public persona revolves around giving the impression that he can do whatever he wants, and much of the reaction to him seems geared, alas, to proving him correct.

In that light, maybe the lameness of the bot claim is the point. In a pinch, Musk could well eat the billion-dollar penalty the deal mandates if he walks away. He can easily endure a long legal dispute — far more easily than Twitter can. The company is now stuck in limbo while the deal flounders, demoralising employees and paralyzing the company. Anonymous employees told the Washington Post that Musk is destroying the company and throwing it into total chaos.The real tell, however, is in this leak in the same article:

One of the Twitter employees said there have been discussions within the company about conservatives’ concerns with the platform, which employees are working to address, regardless of the outcome of the sale.
- Washington Post

In other words, the very thing pundits and progressives feared in the case of a Musk purchase — the Right gaining more pull over Twitter’s moderation and algorithms — is already happening. Far from resisting a Musk purchase, Twitter is now bending at the knee both to Musk and to the constituencies he leveraged to support his purchase. Musk has become the recalcitrant bride and Twitter the pleading suitor, a humiliating and hypocritical position for the company to inhabit. And while one might expect anti-Musk factions to be cheering the potential collapse of the deal and encourage Twitter to back away, that does not seem to be happening either.

As an emperor-has-no-clothes moment for Twitter, it’s pretty embarrassing. They’ve put themselves in thrall to Musk, compromised on the principles they claimed to espouse, and embarrassed any backers who thought they were better than Musk, since they’re now carrying water for him even in the absence of being bought.

Musk, on the other hand, must be feeling fairly smug. Time is on his side, Twitter is begging him to buy them, and the social media giant has lost significant prestige and integrity. And the blue-checked elites, linger watching the carnage, aware to varying degrees of being reduced to mere spectators. Every age gets the trickster it deserves: we get Elon Musk.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark Knight
Mark Knight
1 month ago

Twitter says that less than 5% of accounts are bots, Musk has suggested that it is around 90%. Twitter will not say how they calculated 5%. It seems a bit more than a “lame bot claim” considering future revenue was to be based on advertising to actual individuals.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Knight

Does it really matter whether these accounts are fake or genuine? Either way, the content is worthless.

James H Johnson
James H Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Worthless to you and me, yes. But we all know people that get, read and respond to dozens of tweets every day.

Terry M
Terry M
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

It matters because the advertisers are paying for eyeballs on their content. 10 million views by real people are much more valuable than 1 million views. Don’t you get that?

s johnson
s johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes it is relevant, because the entire journalism industry feeds off twitter
Yes, that is also stupid, but it is the way it is… which is why it does matter if there are fake voices twisting the conversation.

William Simonds
William Simonds
1 month ago

Twitter is begging him to buy them, and the social media giant has lost significant prestige and integrity.

Wait! What? To my knowledge Twitter has no integrity…it authors nothing, creates nothing, contributes nothing. It simply has the power to decide who gets to post and not post, and has done a very poor job of displaying any type of integrity in that regard.
The same can be said of prestige. Twitter itself has no prestige. It depends on the prestige of its “tweeters” for that. And given that the vast majority are totally unknown, a significant number of them are trolls, and (if Musk is right) many, if not a majority are “bots” and not actual people, what prestige does Twitter actually have?
It seems to me the world is watching this with a largely bemused attitude, anticipating the inevitable bust of something that was hyped to have incredible substance but everyone knows has no substance at all. We’re all standing off, observing a slow motion train wreck in process. It is entertainment at best. It is definitely not news.

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
1 month ago

They’re both getting what they deserve. Musk is a showman who flouts SEC at every turn. Twitter is a cesspool that the world would be better off without. That’s why it’s hilarious watching supposedly smart people wrangle with the question Musk begged: How much is Twitter worth? Turns out… nobody can find out what value it really offers to society. In the hysterical claim that it’s the last best hope for a digital town square, all of Twitter’s competitors who actually stand up for free speech (most notably Gab) are standing off to the side chuckling, wondering when everyone else will wake up from their Stockholm Syndrome.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 month ago

I’ve wondered if this, like that weird exercise awhile back wherein Musk left it up to a twit-vote whether or not he sold a significant chunk of Tesla stock, weren’t both clever ways to allow him to sell some of his stock without driving it’s price down in the process.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 month ago

In addition to showing he can do what he likes, as the author points out, Musk also reveals the base motives of the woke corporate and media elites behind their sanctimonious smokescreens.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago

I don’t drive a Tesla and I don’t use Twitter. I really don’t care about this gang of doolallies and their fanatasies of achieving world supremacy