When Twitter agreed to sell to the richest man in the world Elon Musk for $44 billion, the two parties agreed to specific terms of the merger, signed a document, and filed it to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Musk does not yet own Twitter. He won’t own the social media platform for many more months. But what he currently does have is a contract with the current management of Twitter, and there is a $1 billion penalty at stake if he pulls out. Rules of behavior were also outlined for the period before the deal officially closes.
Only one mere day after that agreement was reached, Musk broke the rules. One of the agreement’s stipulations was that Musk could tweet about the merger as long as “such Tweets do not disparage [Twitter] or any of its Representatives.”
Musk went ahead and broke that, tweeting out what could be considered two separate disparaging comments about Twitter employees.
After a report in Politico that Twitter’s top lawyer and head of trust and safety Vijaya Gadded cried in an internal meeting following news of the company being acquired by Elon Musk, conservative journalist Saagar Enjeti tweeted a screenshot of the article alongside a tweet saying that Gadded was the “top censorship advocate” who “famously gaslit the world on Joe Rogan’s podcast and censored the Hunter Biden laptop story” is upset about Musk’s takeover.
Gadde’s team is in charge of content moderation. The back story is that in October, it briefly blocked a link to a New York Post article about a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden. It also temporarily locked the Post’s account. When the laptop was eventually confirmed to belong to Hunter, then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized and said Twitter made a mistake.
Musk jumped on the thread this week. Musk in essence agreed with Enjeti’s critique of Gadded, and tweeted out that “suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.”
Hours later, right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich alleged that Twitter lawyer Jim Baker, a former FBI general counsel “facilitated fraud.” Musk replied, “sounds pretty bad.”
Musk just can’t stop tweeting. This is far from the billionaire’s first play at toeing the line on Twitter. As Tesla CEO, his tweets have landed him in hot water before, including leading to a lawsuit from the SEC over what the regulator determined was a misleading tweet about securing funding to take Tesla private.
It is unlikely that Musk’s most recent tweets will end up with major consequences, but they are further evidence that nothing, even signed contracts, and the opinions of future employees, can stop Musk from sharing whatever he thinks on his favorite platform.