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If Elon Musk thought just like the rest of us, he wouldn’t be Elon Musk. It’s safe to say that a lot of the world’s richest man’s decisions are puzzling to observers.

That being said, Elon Musk’s decisions obviously tend to pan out for him. There are failures along the way for everyone, but Musk has clearly learned a great deal from his failures.

So, after we all found out that Elon Musk decided to acquire a 9 percent stake in social media giant Twitter, I can assume he has some kind of game plan in mind. Exactly what it is, though? That’s anyone’s guess.

Musk’s 73.5 million Twitter shares are worth something in the neighborhood of $3 billion. We do not know exactly when or exactly how he came to acquire this stake in Twitter. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing became public on April 4, and this filing revealed that some sort of triggering event took place on March 14.

Whatever the details of the transaction, Elon Musk is now Twitter’s largest shareholder. His predecessor as the company’s largest individual shareholder was Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. Elon Musk’s portfolio of Twitter stock is currently more than four times larger than Jack Dorsey’s.

Speculation is swirling about what Musk might intend to do with his newly acquired stake in Twitter. With 9 percent of the company, he certainly has the clout to immediately start advocating for change at Twitter (if he desires to do so, of course).

If Musk’s decision is purely about returns, this investment is already set to pay off handsomely. Twitter shares are up by almost 50 percent since March 14, and Twitter’s stock price surged by close to 30 percent on April 4 alone.

On the other hand, there are many indications that Musk’s purchase of such a huge chunk of Twitter might be about more than just its stock price. Musk has about 80 million followers on the platform himself, and he has repeatedly been critical of curbs on free speech.

The SEC has been a particularly problematic thorn in Elon Musk’s side when it comes to limitations on his use of Twitter to express himself.

Back in 2018, the regulatory agency entered into an agreement with Musk imposing fines on him and his company Tesla in relation to a tweet from Musk which implied he had the funding secured to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Far from ending the matter, the 2018 agreement only marked the beginning of a new stage of conflict.

The SEC and Musk have routinely continued to tangle over the CEO’s use of Twitter since the 2018 agreement was reached.

In March, Musk said on Twitter that he had been “giving serious thought” to starting his own social media platform. Separately, Musk also dubbed himself a “free speech absolutist” in a tweet defending the decision not to block access to Russian state media outlets through SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service.

Upon hearing of Musk’s large purchase of Twitter shares, some rightwing figures were quick to reach out asking him to use his influence to restore users to the platform who have been banned or suspended for spreading election disinformation, threats of violence, and other types of prohibited content. It is unclear what action, if any, Musk will take in response to such requests.

Although Elon Musk has expressed views indicative of an expansive view of free speech rights, advertisers — Twitter’s primary source of revenue — have been loath to be associated with extremist social media content.

For the time being, Elon Musk’s true motivation in becoming Twitter’s largest shareholder will remain shrouded in mystery. But one thing I can say for certain is that Musk’s engagement with social media will continue to be interesting.

Jonathan Wolf is a civil litigator and author of Your Debt-Free JD (affiliate link). He has taught legal writing, written for a wide variety of publications, and made it both his business and his pleasure to be financially and scientifically literate. Any views he expresses are probably pure gold, but are nonetheless solely his own and should not be attributed to any organization with which he is affiliated. He wouldn’t want to share the credit anyway. He can be reached at jon_wolf@hotmail.com.

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