After becoming Twitter's largest shareholder with a 9.2 percent stake worth $3 billion, Elon Musk has joined the board of the micro blogging website, CEO Parag Agrawal announced on Tuesday, April 5.
The move comes days after he criticised the platform for restricting free speech and said that he is giving "serious thought" to building a new social media platform.
"He’s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!" CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted today.
Twitter's stock jumped 27 percent today.
The SEC filings had suggested that Musk would be a passive shareholder – someone who doesn’t seek to influence or challenge the board to change control of a company.
However, Musk, who is one of the most followed people on the platform, hasn't exactly been passive after buying the shares. Through a Twitter poll on Monday, he asked his 80 million followers if they wanted an edit button on the platform.
“The idea that Elon Musk falls within a passive category is probably a stretch. He’s not the most passive guy,” Jill Fisch, a securities law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told Bloomberg.
Fisch had said that Musk could technically change his mind in the future and file to become an active shareholder who can push major changes in the company.
Musk and Free Speech
"Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?" Elon Musk had tweeted earlier.
The world's richest man had also invited a poll on Twitter, asking users if they believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle that free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.
70 percent of respondents chose "No".
Because of its relatively strict moderation of content, Twitter has seen a series of alternatives like Gab, Rumble, Parler, Gettr and Donald Trump's Truth Social, some of which claim to champion free speech.
None of these have been very successful.
Musk has described himself as a "free speech absolutist", however he and his company have attempted to limit free speech on multiple occasions.
For instance, Tesla recently fired a former employee named John Bernal after he shared video reviews of the company’s Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta system on his YouTube channel.
The company had also been found guilty last year of illegally firing a worker involved in union organizing and of illegally threatening workers that they would lose stock options if they unionized.
Journalist Stewart Alsop alleged that he was barred from buying a Tesla because he criticised Musk's mismanagement of the Tesla Model X launch event.
In 2018, the SEC sued Musk for allegedly misleading investors with his tweets. They struck a deal which required Musk to step down as Tesla Chairman and not tweet anything about Tesla without the approval of other company executives.
Musk is currently trying to back out of this arrangement.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)