Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover Drama: A Hand Overplayed?

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Elon Musk, who has, as of this month, quietly amassed more than 9% of Twitter, just offered $43 billion to buy the whole company. It’s a hostile takeover attempt, ostensibly driven by Musk’s goal of enforcing free speech absolutism. The libertarian right-wing is enthralled. The Twitter board is not. Twitter is repelling Musk’s move with a “poison pill” that would inundate the market with new shares if Musk gains 15% of the stock.

As this week’s drama unfolds on Twitter, many brows have, no doubt, been raised. The Securities and Exchange Commission is already probing Musk’s past misuse of social media.

Gene Munster of Loup Funds suggests Musk could get help from politically aligned private equity sources, as “[c]ompanies that have a political basis are winning investor support.” Tesla board members such as Larry Ellison, the Oracle founder who has donated to Morgan Ortagus, the Trump-endorsed candidate for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District, could also be of interest as private equity partners.

The Twitter board’s poison pill is important to fend off the political manipulation of Twitter. Will it also become the first key resistance to a string of Musk’s future goals? As a reminder, here are just a few of those:

Getting Military Contracts. Musk’s SpaceX has declared itself engaged in the colonization of Mars (while dubbing itself a legal authority over the planet) and has been picking up Pentagon contracts. The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded SpaceX a $102 million contract to create a report on how the company’s reusable rockets could expedite U.S. supply deliveries around the globe.

Space Taking. SpaceX is littering space with internet satellites designed to ultimately burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. That’s supposed to be a good thing. (Amazon is a competitor. And the governments of Japan, India, Russia, China, and Israel are all extraterrestrial prospectors, with Google in a cheerleading role.)

Protecting Us From Evildoers. What if the future of artificial intelligence is in the hands of a villain? Don’t worry. Musk’s Neuralink will save us. Having done pig and monkey experiments, Neuralink will next implant brain chips in disabled people—who won’t lose anything if “unused brain” gets damaged in the process—en route to developing quick and easy surgical enhancements for the “healthy” among us. When a viewer of Neuralink’s brain-chipped pig spectacle asked whether chipped car owners will telepathically summon their Teslas, Musk answered: “Definitely, of course…it’s very easy; that’s an easy one.”

Boring the World. Florida is overloaded with people but rapidly losing ground-nesting birds and bees to the climate crisis and land use. Tortoises are losing their coastal corridors to construction. Yet Fort Lauderdale wants the Musk-led Boring Company’s much-vaunted tunnels to augment capacity for the city’s burgeoning traffic.

Taking Us All for a Ride. As Tesla fills the world with robotic cars, its sustainability credentials will become increasingly absurd. Bucket-list national park trips could become monthly excursions. And when our new homes come with promotional cars from a vehicle maker that collaborates on “sustainable large-scale housing projects around the world” we’re getting greenwashed sprawl.

Tesla’s “semi-sentient” cars cannot replace the sentient life their infrastructure overruns. Animals can’t defend themselves from lithium extraction. Fragile ecosystems have little recourse against Tesla—or “green” tech’s cheap access to sensitive lands in general.

Meanwhile, Musk continues to craft ecological and social justifications to burrow into key facets of modern life. Now the Teslaspreading is taking up all of Twitter. A Musk-run Twitter would support the further weakening of Earth-focused dialogue, law and policy.

Will this new drama finally bother a few Elon enablers? It’s about time.

The author thanks Bill Drelles and Pam Page for their support.

Lee Hall holds an LL.M. in environmental law with a focus on climate change, and has taught law as an adjunct at Rutgers–Newark and at Widener–Delaware Law. Lee is an author, public speaker, and creator of the Studio for the Art of Animal Liberation on Patreon.