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Twitter's board could find itself in court if their anti-free speech stance continues
How does Elon Musk’s Twitter saga impact shareholders?
UBS managing director and senior portfolio manager Jason Katz discusses Elon Musk’s Twitter fiasco and whether the U.S. has seen peak inflation.
Last week, Twitter's Chief Executive Officer Parag Agrawal sounded more like Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in rallying his troops to defy the existential threat of billionaire Elon Musk while pledging that they will not be "held hostage."
The threat, however, was not a private buyout but the threat that Twitter might be forced to respect free speech on the site. The problem for the company’s board of directors is that they could find themselves in court if their anti-free speech stance continues to stand in the way of shareholder profits.
The board responded to the Musk offer with what sounded like a suicide pact to swallow a "poison pill" to sell new shares to drive down share values. While a standard tactic to fend off hostile takeovers, Twitter made it clear that it would not be forced into free speech after making the company synonymous with censorship.
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They were joined by liberal commentators who declared that it was not just Twitter but democracy itself that could fall if free speech were allowed to breakout. The Washington Post’s Max Boot declared that "for democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less."
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Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich went full Orwellian in explaining why freedom is tyranny. Reich insisted that "every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron" pushed free speech to oppress people and that, while good for Musk, "for the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare."
Twitter’s CEO and board decided a long time ago to pursue woke policies over profits. They are selling censorship to a public that wants more free speech.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has maintained that he wants to steer the company beyond free speech and that the issue is not who can speak but "who can be heard." The question, however, is whether shareholders will be heard by a Board that has decided to make censorship (or "content modification") a critical goal of the company.
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As I said previously, boards are legally obligated to act in the best interest of shareholders. That fiduciary duty has long been ignored as Twitter undermined its own product by writing off conservatives through openly biased censorship. The managers and employees seem to view the company as a vehicle of their anti-free speech values despite artificially driving down users who have either been banned or deterred by its intolerance for dissenting views.