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Professor says Elon Musk bid for Twitter poses threat to democracy

Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter after lining up billions of dollars for a takeover is less about Musk and more about democracy, a California State University East Bay professor said Thursday.

Musk said in a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he has secured nearly $47 billion and is offering shareholders $54.20 per share of common stock.

But when Musk said a week ago that he had made an offer, the following day Twitter announced a poison pill to quash Musk’s bid. A poison pill makes buying a company less attractive by diluting the acquirer’s potential ownership in the company.

Cal State East Bay professor of communication and history Nolan Higdon said Musk’s bid is just the latest effort of a corporate oligarch to take over a share of public discourse, which makes “democracy less and less likely to work as it’s designed.”

Higdon cited other “oligarchs” such as News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, among other publications, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post.

Higdon said:

“This is a profit-making opportunity for them and adds to their power.” 

Though Musk claims freedom of speech is motivating him to buy Twitter, Higdon is skeptical. 

Twitter’s shares were up $2.21 at the close Friday on the Nasdaq stock exchange at $48.93, compared with Wednesday’s close. On Friday alone, shares were up nearly 4 percent.

Thursday’s SEC filing by Musk says he wants to make a tender offer for the shares of other shareholders. If he does that, he can avoid getting approval from Twitter’s board of directors.

The SEC filing Thursday morning said Twitter had not responded to Musk’s offer to buy the company.

Musk did not respond to a request for a comment made Friday morning through his company Tesla.

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