Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita discusses Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweets expressing interest in building a new social media platform.
AKIKO FUJITA: Brian, let’s keep the conversation going on Elon Musk because he had a very–
BRIAN CHEUNG: Why not?
AKIKO FUJITA: –busy week, weekend, I should say, on Twitter, very active. A big part of the focus here, criticizing Twitter’s free speech practices. So I want to start with one that kind of got the conversation going.
He said, “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?” And that was met, as you can imagine, with a lot of responses.
And I want to point to this one specific one, because Elon Musk did then respond. This came from one specific user who came out and said, would you consider building a new social media platform, one that would consist of an open source algorithm, one where free speech and adhering to free speech is given top priority, one where propaganda is very minimal? I think that kind of platform is needed.
To which Elon Musk responded, am giving serious thought to this. Are we going to see one? Is Elon Musk going to start social media, another social media platform? Do we need another social media platform?
BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, Akiko, I mean, first of all, we just have to acknowledge that a lot of this kind of random musing may have been associated with the fact that he has a lot of free time on his hands, because he’s probably sitting it out . Apparently, he got COVID for a second time. He tweeted that out earlier on Monday. So it seems like maybe this weekend, he had a lot more time to tweet.
Much like Kevin Durant, there’s kind of a direct correlation between the amount of time that you’re sitting and the amount of tweets that you will fire off at any given point in time. But we’ve seen this from others. Donald Trump is obviously the first example that you think of people that have tried to start alternative mediums to Twitter. And it’s not to necessarily say that these platforms aren’t usable.
It’s just simply that the scale that Twitter’s already built is so strong, which kind of prompted some users to joke, maybe Elon should just buy Twitter instead. Of course, he’s got capital, and maybe a lot of others don’t. One user said, can you just buy Twitter? I’m too lazy to sign up anywhere else.
Now, of course, Twitter, if he did want to do that, would be a pretty hefty price tag. $31 billion is its market cap. Tack a premium onto that. And Akiko, if he wants to just make some jokes about starting a new platform, that’s a pretty expensive price tag for that. I mean, I certainly don’t have the money to do that.
AKIKO FUJITA: I mean, neither of us have the money. But some context here, right? I mean, Elon Musk has been hit by the SEC before for tweeting out things that were seen as having a material impact to the stock. And the SEC more recently came back and said they’re not necessarily going to let Elon Musk out of that agreement that he has to have any kind of tweet approved.
So he’s got a bone to pick here on Twitter because he’s been hit for what he has put out in the past. But we’ve seen a pattern here. You mentioned Donald Trump. He got kicked off of Twitter and said, look, that’s fine. I’m going to go out and start another platform.
Something tells me this was just about Elon Musk being at home in isolation. He had a lot of time on his hands this weekend.
BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, I mean, here’s the irony too is that, if the whole point of this is to get the free speech that he feels like the SEC is holding him back from, why would starting a new social media service get around that? Because public dissemination of any information is within the purview of the SEC, regardless of what platform it’s on. So actually, it just seems like the “Tom and Jerry,” cat and mouse situation between Elon Musk and the SEC is really irrelevant to this whole conversation. I think, as you mentioned, Akiko, he’s probably just bored.