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The billionaire provocateur Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter. But why? Then: Fights about the dirty dishes aren’t always about the dishes.
Elon Musk wants to make his position as the nation’s Twitter czar official. The SpaceX and Tesla leader, who already owns a 9 percent stake in the social-media company, is offering to buy the rest outright at a cost of $54.20 a share. Musk, who has chafed at Twitter’s moderation rules in the past, is known to be a bit of a troll, leaving many an observer to ponder: Is this for real? And if it is, what does that mean for the company, and this country—including people who are not on Twitter, but whose politics and culture are heavily influenced by it? Four of our writers weigh in on Musk and his plans.
He is a “bullionaire”—a billionaire bullshitter. “He does whatever the heck he wants, however stupid it might be,” our contributing writer Ian Bogost argues. “In a world where so much wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few, that stupidity can be a sort of comfort … But a bullionaire is also terrifying, because you just don’t know what he’s doing next. ”
He is taking a classic Musk approach. “He is manifesting ‘I alone can fix it’ energy and elevating it to the level of civilizational importance,” our space reporter, Marina Koren, writes. “But for those who see Tesla as an important player in the fight against climate change, and for those who believe that SpaceX is the future of space travel, Musk’s new fascination with Twitter seems like a baffling distraction.”
He is portraying it as a battle for free speech (it's not). Today, Twitter is a gladiatorial arena, not a social network, Renee DiResta, the technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, writes.
He is offering to buy a broken website. “It’s unclear to me that Musk, or anyone, knows how to fix a niche social-media site that succeeds mainly in radicalizing or enraging its narrow but influential base,” David French argues in the latest edition of The Third Rail.
The rest of the news in three sentences:
(1) A Russian warship in the Black Sea sank after being damaged in the war on Ukraine.
(2) Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s 15-week abortion ban into law.
(3) The Republican National Committee voted to withdraw from the nonprofit that runs presidential debates, claiming that it is biased.
Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:
Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, explores “womanhood, along with the self-scrutiny and outside judgment it inspires.”
A break from the news:
Matthew Fray shares the marriage lesson he learned too late.