Elon Musk may not be sitting on Twitter’s board, but he remains its largest shareholder—and that’s bad news.

By Victor Pickard, The Nation

Elon Musk, the billionaire Tesla CEO notorious for posting asinine tweets to his 80 million–plus Twitter followers, has purchased himself a position of power within the platform itself by becoming the company’s largest shareholder.

For a few tumultuous days, it seemed he’d also become a vocal board member, promising to help implement “significant improvements.” That decision was reversed, but even without an explicit advisory role, Musk can still exert his agenda by shaping the discourse around Twitter’s future. As if to underscore this point, Twitter’s chief executive, Parag Agrawal, made clear following Musk’s sudden reversal that “We have and will always value input from our shareholders whether they are on our Board or not. Elon is our biggest shareholder and we will remain open to his input.”

Elon Musk

It’s difficult to predict what influence Musk could wield with his “input,” especially since he’s now no longer prevented from purchasing more than 14.9 percent of Twitter’s stock and could increase his holdings, even to the point of owning a controlling stake in the company. And at the very least, he will likely continue to use Twitter to attack his enemies and broadcast his views about the company.

Indeed, Musk’s tweets contain troubling clues about his hopes for Twitter. Beyond advocating for creating an edit button on individual posts and other, more eccentric proposals, Musk has implied that Twitter should amend or abandon its content moderation policies and follow his preferred version of free speech, which should give us pause.

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