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The Federal Communications Commission has said it would be ‘un-American’ to interfere with Elon Musk’s $44billion Twitter deal.
Commissioner Nathan Simington issued a press release on Monday dismissing requests for the agency to stop Elon Musk from acquiring Twitter.
He warned the agency would not intervene and said he did not have the authority to weigh in on the blockbuster acquisition and added it would be ‘unconstitutional’.
Musk confirmed his mammoth takeover at the end of last month and has vowed to release the shackles ‘woke’ bosses have put on free speech on the site.
It has been met with fury by some who fear the social media giant would further sour if people could post more freely.
FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington issued a press release on Monday dismissing requests for the agency to stop Elon Musk from acquiring Twitter
Simington said the FCC did not have authority to regulate internet platforms like Twitter, but even if it did, there was ‘no reason to think the deal would limit competition or harm consumers’
‘The FCC cannot, and should not, block this sale. We should instead applaud Mr. Musk for doing something about a serious problem that government has so far failed to address,’ Simingtong wrote
Why the FCC won’t block Elon Musk’s $44billion Twitter deal
1. The FCC’s ‘review authority does not and has never extended to internet platforms like Twitter.’
2. ‘Even if it did, it would be inappropriate and contrary to the public interest to block it, and it would harm consumers.’
3. ‘Nothing about Musk becoming the sole owner of Twitter would be out of step with the ownership structures of other social media platforms or. Google, YouTube, Facebook, the Washington Post, and the New York Times are each owned or controlled by one or two people or a single family.’
4. ‘It would be not only unconstitutional [and illegal], but plainly un-American, for any arm of the government to act against Twitter or Mr. Musk for such a purpose.’
Simingtong wrote: ‘The FCC cannot, and should not, block this sale. We should instead applaud Mr. Musk for doing something about a serious problem that government has so far failed to address.’
He continued: ‘…I am particularly troubled by arguments that the federal government must act with the purpose of stopping Mr. Musk from enshrining free expression on Twitter. The only merit in such proposals is their candor in proposing something so blatantly illegal.
‘It would be not only unconstitutional, but plainly un-American, for any arm of the government to act against Twitter or Mr. Musk for such a purpose.’
Simington said the FCC did not have authority to regulate internet platforms like Twitter, but even if it did, there was ‘no reason to think the deal would limit competition or harm consumers.’
The commissioner seemingly sided with Musk and even ventured to suggest that ‘restrictive, and often politically motivated, content moderation practices,’ were affecting consumer choice and freedom of speech.
Simington added the purchase did not raise concerns of horizontal or vertical concentration in the social media market – terms that refer to companies’ strategists to merge and regulate stages of their production instead of relying on suppliers.
The release comes after ‘some called on the FCC to stop Elon Musk from acquiring Twitter,’ according to Simington. It is unclear who he referred to, DailyMail.com has reached out for comment.
Musk, the world’s richest man, currently owns a 9.2 per cent stake in the tech giant and is trying to take it private with an unsolicited bid of $54.20 per share.
To buy Twitter the 50-year-old committed $21 billion in equity, $13 billion from Morgan Stanley in debt facilities and another $12.5 billion from the bank and others in margin loans.
But ‘a portion’ of his shares in Tesla have been put forward as collateral, which analysts feared could have a huge impact on the firm.
Musk filed a document with the US. Securities and Exchange Commission on April 21 showing how he planned to take over Twitter for about $44 billion.
‘If Mr. Musk follows through on his stated intention to ease Twitter’s restrictions on speech, he would almost certainly enhance competition and better serve those Americans, the majority, who value free speech,’ Simington wrote on Monday.
The FCC commissioner said that despite reports of concerns that Musk becoming the sole owner of Twitter ‘would be out of step with the ownership structures of other social media platforms,’ that was the case for many platforms.
‘Google, YouTube, Facebook, the Washington Post, and the New York Times are each owned or controlled by one or two people or a single family,’ Simington argued.
Concerns of Musk controlling both Twitter and Starlink were also dismissed as ‘not serious,’ with Simington rebutting that there are plenty of examples of common ownership and control of broadband internet and online services like streaming platforms, and news websites.
Musk seemingly reacted to the news that the FCC wouldn’t interfere with his deal by sharing a rather particular meme on his Twitter feed.
‘As I was saying,’ Musk captioned a picture of a hand flicking a tiger’s bollocks, which read ‘2022, here we go.’
Musk has laid out some bold, if still vague, plans for transforming Twitter into a place of ‘maximum fun’ once he buys the social media platform for $44 billion and takes it private.
But enacting what at the moment are little more than a mix of vague principles and technical details could be considerably more complicated than he suggests.
Simington added that the purchase did not raise concerns of horizontal or vertical concentration in the social media market – terms that refer to companies’ strategists to merge and regulate stages of its production instead of relying on suppliers
Musk seemingly reacted to the news with a tweet deemed hilarious by Twitter users
Twitter workers have already warned of a ‘mass exodus’ of staff when he takes over the company, with one describing the world’s richest man as ‘a person with questionable ethics’.
At an ‘all-hands’ meeting via videolink last week, hosted by CEO Parag Agrawal and Bret Taylor, the chair of the board, questions submitted by staff during the 45-minute meeting were read out by the chief marketing officer, Leslie Berland.
One question asked in a recording obtained by Project Veritas was: ‘How does the board and Mr Musk plan on dealing with a mass exodus considering the acquisition is by a person with questionable ethics?’
Taylor replied that ‘one of the themes of today is continuity’.
He said: ‘The question of attrition: As Parag stated, one of the themes of today is continuity, and ensuring that Parag and this leadership team continues to operate the business successfully on behalf of our users, on behalf of our customers, and that has obviously been a big topic of discussion at the board.
‘And as I mentioned, an area that is important to Elon Musk as well, because of the importance of Twitter as a service.’
Agrawal said he had seen many questions about the process, about share schemes, and about working conditions in the future. He said much was still to be clarified.
Staff were told there would be no layoffs ‘at this time’ – but no guarantees were provided when Musk takes over.
But in a sign of the possible internal unrest, new product launches were delayed amid fears, Bloomberg speculated, that employees could ‘go rogue’ and ‘push something or mess with the product on the way out the door.’
Agrawal told employees that their stock options would convert to cash when the deal with Musk closes, which he estimated would take three to six months.
According to The New York Times, he also said that they would continue to receive bonuses according to Twitter’s vesting schedule.
Employees would receive their same benefits packages for a year after the deal was finalized, Agrawal added.
He said he would try and arrange a staff forum with Musk, and said that he would remain at the company as CEO, at least until the deal was finalized.
‘He wants Twitter to be a powerful, positive force in the world, just like all of us,’ Agrawal said of Musk.
‘He believes Twitter matters.’
He urged employees to ‘operate Twitter as we always have,’ adding that ‘how we run the company, the decisions we make and the positive changes we drive — that will be on us, and under our control.’
Twitter employees are sharing their concerns in internal chatrooms, messages seen by the New York Post show.
‘We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled,’ one senior staff software engineer reportedly wrote on the company’s internal Slack channel.
The staffer called Musk an ‘a**hole,’ and tried to console his colleagues.
‘We’re all spinning our wheels, and coming up with worst case scenarios (Trump returns! No more moderation!).
‘The fact is that [Musk] has not talked about what he’s planning on doing in any detail outside of broad sweeping statements that could be easily seen as hyperbolic showboating,’ he added.
One site reliability engineer wrote that it was ‘physically cringey watching Elon talk about free speech.’
A senior staff video engineer announced his plans to quit, saying: ‘Not the place to say it perhaps, but I will not work for this company after the takeover.’
The employee unrest begun as soon as Musk’s successful takeover was confirmed on Monday.
‘I feel like im going to throw up..I rly don’t wanna work for a company that is owned by Elon Musk,’ one staffer said, according to New York Times reporter Talmon Smith.
Smith’s source told him that it was ‘absolutely insane’ in the internal chat rooms.
Another Twitter employee reportedly complained: ‘I don’t rly know what I’m supposed to do…oh my god, my phone’s been blowing up…We have a meeting about it at 5pm…the CEO is going to address everyone about it’ (it=elon).
‘I hate him, why does he even want this?’
Musk vowed to protect free speech on Twitter, ‘defeat the spam bots’ and ‘authenticate all humans’ as he welcomed the acquisition.
He also revealed he planned to ‘enhance the product with new features’ and ‘make the algorithms open source to increase trust’.
But within the company, there was turmoil at the announcement.
‘I feel like he’s this petulant little boy and that he’s doing this to troll…he doesn’t know anything about our policies and what we do…his statement about our algo was f****** insane…
‘Were just gonna let everyone run amok?…nobody knows,’ the employee said, according to the New York Times.
Some Twitter staff were ‘openly rebelling’ against Musk, one observer noted, posting a screen shot of Twitter’s official Github site and posting a public response entitled ‘The Algorithm’ – with zero code.
Elon Musk’s big plans for Twitter: What we know so far
By The Associated Press
FREE SPEECH TOWN SQUARE
Musk’s feistiest priority – but also the one with the vaguest roadmap – is to make Twitter a ‘politically neutral’ digital town square for the world’s discourse that allows as much free speech as each country’s laws allow.
He’s acknowledged that his plans to reshape Twitter could anger the political left and mostly please the right. He hasn’t specified exactly what he’ll do about former President Donald Trump’s permanently banned account or other right-wing leaders whose tweets have run afoul of the company’s restrictions against hate speech, violent threats or harmful misinformation.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla’s design studio Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, in Hawthorne, Calif. Musk has laid out some bold, if still vague, plans for transforming Twitter into a place of ‘maximum fun!’ once he buys the social media platform for $44 billion and takes it private
Should Musk go this direction, it could mean bringing back not only Trump, but ‘many, many others that were removed as a result of QAnon conspiracies, targeted harassment of journalists and activists, and of course all of the accounts that were removed after Jan. 6,’ said Joan Donovan, who studies misinformation at Harvard University. ‘That could potentially be hundreds of thousands of people.’
Musk hasn’t ruled out suspending some accounts, but says such bans should be temporary. His latest criticism has centered around what he described as Twitter´s ‘incredibly inappropriate’ 2020 blocking of a New York Post article on Hunter Biden, which the company has said was a mistake and corrected within 24 hours.
Musk’s longstanding interest in AI is reflected in one of the most specific proposals he outlined in his merger announcement – the promise of ‘making the algorithms open source to increase trust.’ He’s talking about the systems that rank content to decide what shows up on users´ feeds.
Partly driving the distrust, at least for Musk supporters, is lore among U.S. political conservatives about ‘shadow banning’ on social media. This is a supposed invisible feature for reducing the reach of badly behaving users without disabling their accounts. There has been no evidence that Twitter’s platform is biased against conservatives; studies have found the opposite when it comes to conservative media in particular.
Musk has called for posting the underlying computer code powering Twitter’s news feed for public inspection on the coder hangout GitHub. But such ‘code-level transparency’ gives users little insight into how Twitter is working for them without the data the algorithms are processing, said Nick Diakopoulos, a Northwestern University computer scientist.
Diakopoulos said there are good intentions in Musk’s broader goal to help people find out why their tweets get promoted or demoted and whether human moderators or automated systems are making those choices. But that’s no easy task. Too much transparency about how individual tweets are ranked, for instance, can make it easier for ‘disingenuous people’ to game the system and manipulate an algorithm to get maximum exposure for their cause, Diakopoulos said.
`DEFEATING THE SPAM BOTS´
‘Spam bots’ that mimic real people have been a personal nuisance to Musk, whose popularity on Twitter has inspired countless impersonator accounts that use his image and name – often to promote cryptocurrency scams that look as if they’re coming from the Tesla CEO.
Sure, Twitter users, among them Musk, ‘don´t want spam,’ said David Greene, civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But who defines what counts as a spam bot?
‘Do you mean all bots like, you know, if I follow a Twitter bot that just pulls up historic photos of fruits? I choose to follow that. Is that not allowed to exist?’ he said.
There are also plenty of spam-filled Twitter accounts at least partially run by real people that run the gamut from ones that hawk products to those promoting polarizing political content to meddle in other countries’ elections.
`AUTHENTICATE ALL HUMANS’
Musk has repeatedly said he wants Twitter to ‘authenticate all humans,’ an ambiguous proposal that could be related to his desire to rid the website of spam accounts.
Ramping up mundane identity checks – such as two-factor authentication or popups that ask which of six photos shows a school bus – could discourage anyone from trying to amass an army of bogus accounts.
Musk might also be considering offering more people a ‘blue check’ – the verification checkmark sported on notable Twitter accounts – like Musk’s – to show they’re who they say they are. Musk has suggested users could buy the checkmarks as part of a premium service.
But some digital rights activists are concerned these measures could lead to a ‘real-name’ policy resembling Facebook’s approach of forcing people to validate their full names and use them in their profiles. That would seem to contradict Musk’s free speech focus by muzzling anonymous whistleblowers or people living under authoritarian regimes where it can be dangerous if a dissident message is attributable to a particular person.
Musk has floated the idea of an ad-free Twitter, though it wasn’t one of the priorities outlined in the official merger announcement. That may be because cutting off the company’s chief way of making money would be a tall order, even for the world’s richest person.
Advertisements accounted for more than 92% of Twitter’s revenue in the January-March fiscal quarter. The company did last year launch a premium subscription service – known as Twitter Blue – but doesn’t appear to have made much headway in getting people to pay for it.
Musk has made clear he favors a stronger subscription-based model for Twitter that gives more people an ad-free option. That would also fit into his push to relax Twitter’s content restrictions – which brands largely favor because they don’t want their ads surrounded by offensive and hate-filled tweets.