Some of you have asked why I’m still chasing my lawsuit against Twitter, even after it accepted Elon Musk’s takeover offer.
Fair question. In fact, at the Berenson v. Twitter hearing on April 28, federal Judge William Alsup asked something similar. After all, if Musk is going to let Donald Trump back on, he’ll let me on too, right?
I have two answers, one practical and the other philosophical.
The practical one is that we don’t know whether the deal is going to happen - whether Musk will actually buy Twitter. This point may be the only one on which Twitter’s lawyers and I fully agree.
Musk highlighted the risks two days ago by tweeting (of course) that the deal was “on hold” because Twitter might have more fake accounts than it has admitted. Musk sent the message Friday morning, before the stock market opened, and it put Twitter shares into a tailspin. On a very positive day for stocks, the first in a while, Twitter was down about 10 percent.
Oh please. Like the man didn’t know Twitter had bots. Musk’s real concern is obvious: Technology stocks have cratered in the last month. If not for the deal, Twitter shares would probably be trading in the 20s. Thus $54.20 is a rich price (as Twitter’s board confirmed in its rush to take it).
At the same time, shares in Tesla, Musk’s car company, have plunged since he first made his offer for Twitter.
Musk has plenty on his plate. Tesla investors are clearly worried fixing Twitter will take more time and energy than he thinks and put an even bigger target on him. Electric cars are the reason Musk is the world’s richest person. He can’t like the way Tesla’s stock has performed since he started dancing with Twitter.
All in all, Musk may be suffering some buyer’s remorse. Offer to spend $44 billion in haste, repent at leisure! At the least, Musk might be hoping to jam Twitter’s board - which so far has shown all the spine one would expect from a company whose general counsel weeps in public - into accepting a lower price.
Twitter is now trading almost 25 percent below Musk’s offer, indicating investors think the odds are at least 1 in 3 the deal won’t go through.
Thus I cannot depend on Musk to let me back on, and the lawsuit must continue.
But that’s only half the reason. (If that much.)
(PAYWALLED FOR 36 HOURS BELOW)
Musk seems serious about allowing free speech on Twitter.
But as others have pointed out, his commitment to free speech is far from absolute. Over the last several years, he and Tesla have aggressively pursued whistleblowers.
Even worse, Musk is in bed with China as much as any Hollywood studio -
Last time I checked, free speech protections were not high on Xi Jinping’s priority list. Twitter is currently banned in the People’s Republic, but some Chinese find ways to use it.
If China tells Musk it wants stronger blocks on Twitter or Tesla will face retribution, will Musk stand up for free speech or Tesla shareholders? He won’t be able to pick both.
What about the fact that Saudi Arabia’s royal family, which own almost 10 percent of Twitter, now supports the deal too? Last month, Musk pointed out the Kingdom is not exactly a free speech haven. Now he is happily going into business with Prince Talal and the gang.
It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye, and it’s easy to be a free speech absolutist when you don’t have $44 billion on the line.
But even if Musk does stand up for Twitter, our protections should not depend on him.
These may be private companies, but they are public forums, the most important forums of our time. They need to be open to all points of view, restricted only by the same limitations that the First Amendment applies to speech offline.
The censorious left likes to pretend content moderation online is exceptionally complicated, and thus social media companies need lots of freedom to dismiss views they don’t like. In fact setting limits online is no more complicated than doing so offline, and the United States has managed to figure that balance out.
We have limits on speech offline; they are distant, but they do exist. My free speech rights do not extend to my following you down the street for hours screaming at you, or blasting music outside your house all night. Child pornography is illegal too, and you can’t claim your First Amendment rights extend to a conspiracy to commit murder.
Those limits do not undercut the principle of free speech in the United States or California constitutions.
Judge Alsup didn’t allow every claim in my lawsuit to proceed. Still, in moving the suit past the motion to dismiss stage, he gave me a chance to look at Twitter’s internal documents and external communications about me.
Almost no one else who has sued Twitter or the other big social media companies has gotten that opportunity. And Alsup ordered discovery on an accelerated schedule, so Musk’s takeover cannot possibly close in time for Twitter to avoid it (even before his Friday “on hold” announcement).
I don’t know what that discovery will show about how Twitter viewed its obligations to me, the outside pressure it may have faced, or anything else.
But I know finding out is important - and would be important no matter what Elon Musk has planned for Twitter. We have laws and courts and contracts and constitutions so that we are not dependent on the whims of the rich and powerful.
By the way, if you want to support the suit as it heads into this more expensive phase, GoFundMe has confirmed it will be forwarding donations (I know many of you don’t like GFM, and I understand why, but having set up the campaign with them, I don’t want to move it). You can also email me for my Venmo handle if you would rather use Venmo, or send a check directly to James Lawrence, my lawyer, at Envisage Law - 2601 Oberlin Rd STE 100, Raleigh, NC 27608.
More than 1,000 of you have already donated. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
All fair enough. But if Twitter is indeed lying about how many bots they have, then the advertiser lawsuits are going to be biblical in scope. Why wouldn't he wriggle out of this, let all these lawsuits hit, then pick up Twitter at 10% of the price tag? Makes sense to me.
Free speech shouldn't depend on a person or people. Free speech needs to be uncensorable.
Musk may be great or not, pinning one's hopes on him is risky in the extreme.
China is the biggest reason I don’t fully trust Musk. It hasn’t escaped my notice that China and Xi have escaped Elon’s memes and passive aggressive tweets. However if he makes the entire platform and code open source or opened to the public, then my concern may be unfounded. Time will tell.
Of course the suit must continue ! The damage of the banning & censorship happened at a specific time (2020-21) while the discourse was needed. Twitter (and other media outlets) both silenced and libeled you. Damage was done, to you specifically, and collateral to us who needed the truth...or at least a dissenting voice.
Gofundme? Yeah, Nah.
Musk is smart enough to realize Biden and his Democrats are torching the US economy and if the press and social media censors have their way, socialists will be in power forever. This would ruin Musk's $300 billion portfolio.
Opening social media to a political debate (that is, the truth) is in Musk's financial interests because Biden's inflation, spending, Covid oppression, wealth taxes, climate change regulatory apparatus and much more - is harmful to the economy and thus, Musk's vast wealth.
lawsuit must continue no matter what. The principles of free speech should not depend on who's in charge of a company and this lawsuit is a crucial way to create free speech standards for social media, it's a key moment in the evolution of the internet.
I believe Musk is going to buy Twitter on the Cheap. Twitter has more than 5% Spam Bots and Suspended accounts on the books for sure. They Twitter has been misleading the Share holders for Years.
I am a paying subscriber to Alex but I do not believe that twitter is the holy grail of public forums. Apparently Journalists think so. Most of us real people just dont care what happens on twitter. However I am glad that his suit is ongoing. Like Musk said, twitter banned Trump but could not stop him from having a voice and creating a better forum as well.
You must continue!!! If Musk buys Twitter, I don’t think you have to worry about free speech. Even if policy changes with a new owner, it doesn’t change the damage, disruption and all the rest to your franchise. Let’s see what really going on behind the scenes, and Alex you are so close.
Exactly. Musk is a little weird (as are you, as am I), but he has done what no one else has done: scared the people who have stolen our voices and given the hope of free speech.
This case is bigger than Twitter and Musk. Precedent needs to be set. If I were Musk I would want the case to go through. We need a public ruling in favor of free speech for any and all to see and site.
100% reason #2. Free speech shouldn't depend on a single man or woman, but rather the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
"finding out is important" - To my mind this is the important part, discovery. If we find the government had ANY hand in directing Twitter to censor, we have a constitutional issue. The government is not allowed to infringe rights without extreme justification. If they decided what Twitter allows they likely are doing the same on other platforms. Thus we were horribly ill-informed about C19 - disease, progress, treatment, risks - as I think we were. Malone's mass hysteria is more about how the press drove great fear and caused much damage to society. Censorship caused truth to be slow in arriving. Much of this was driven by a corrupt NIH and big pHarma (IMHO). How we were prevented from knowing is the real story that needs sunlight.
Musk is a sideshow that just complicates things, maybe on purpose. I could care less about whether Trump returns to Twitter. I really do care about why we were so ill-informed about C19. And while SubStack has been a refreshing glimpse of truth, Twitter along with other platforms reach more people.
Musk is doing his do-diligence in his contract, verifying there are fewer than 5% of bots in the accounts. It is the seller who must do the work to uncover false statements. If it is true that there are more than 5% bots, that there are 30-50-70% bots, and this is exposed....think of the advertisers who might sue Twitter for being lied to about the market twitter reaches. I would expect any buyer would want to know about legitimate accounts when buying a social media company.
The irony of you holding yourself out as the champion of truth and whining about media censorship when you’re ghosting 2000 Mules like the rest of the media cabal. I figured you’d at least try to “fact check” it like the embarrassing AP article that’s being mocked on line.
Musk is a fake unfortunately. His Twitter announcement justified him selling billions in tesla shares to fund his twitter purchase without causing a huge panic. I'm sure some key twitter stockholders appreciated the opportunity to sell their shares after the brief bounce.
Pleasantly surprised the WSJ printed your letter today in the Editorial section.
I agree with u Alwx. It's not a done deal until every last bit of ink is on paper. Thus could take a year, two? Perhaps three months, but that's miracle territory.
Don't stop! You're further along in suit of this kind then most even dreamed of.
Nobody gives a shit about Twitter. No REAL people in the world actually use Twitter. There are plenty of alternatives open to you.
The only people that use Twitter are celebrities.
What is a Twitter?
I’m fairly certain that is a bargaining chip cuz there is no way they are going to be able to prove less than 5% bots which means they lied about how many actual customers they have. Just saying.
Ford and GM spend 1-5 billion/ yr in marketing. Musk uses Twitter for free. He’ll complete the deal rather than risk being canceled like you Alex on some political whim or competitive pay off. I believe the pullback is pretty much played out. He’ll close the deal at the original price, He’s just getting some leverage to get Twitter to pony up what’s really been going on. That’s my bet, I bought some calls on Friday on both Twitter and Tesla.
Brit Hume tweeting this a.m. link to opinion piece by Alex which is - https://www.wsj.com/articles/my-lawsuit-will-shine-a-light-on-twitter-censorship-soical-media-big-tech-facebook-speech-11652634888 (pay-walled).
I’m glad Dorsey, et. al. are gone, but First Amendment rights are unalienable, absolutely not dependent on man.
Fight on Alex. Yours is a righteous cause.
Agree. Keep going. Don’t let up now. Remember there are other players (e.g. Facebook, Google, etc) doing the same or worse. I held my nose and used gofundme to send some support.
Plus, where do you go to get your reputation back.
I understand that if either side pulls out in the Twitter sale there is a 1 billion dollar penalty. However, given Elon Musk is worth $250 billion, that's chump change for him.
Altruistic leanings or promises do not undo justice. If it is determined by a court of law that a wrong has been committed, then the actors have to be held accountable.
We were never depending on him. He owes you nothing. Get over it.
Looks like Musk is taking Twitter down instead of buying it.
If the deal goes through, then you can work with Elon to clear out the garbage.
If you actually believed in free speech based on the First Amendment definition you would have started posting on Gab BEFORE you were banned from Twitter.
Sue the fuck out of them.
Don’t worry about what others may or may not do
Conspiracy to commit murder requires words plus at least one act in furtherance of the plan, so, technically, free speech does apply to planning a murder. It's the one act to bring the plan out of imagination and into reality that springs the trap.
If I were Musk, why would I let you back on and add to Twitter's base? I'd keep you and President Trump off until the accountants set up millions in reserves on the balance sheet for the coming law suits. The accountants also may have a lot of exposure here for the bots.
Musk is fake. He is not who you think he is. So they are faking us out yet again. Yet another distraction and false hope.
Bode Lang had a great video, "Elon Musk is no friend to conservatives" which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ct1_Ice2-8
Elon Musk's company Tesla engages in corporate extortion by utilizing environmental laws which allow for trading of environmental credits and therefore a huge portion of Tesla's profit is actually just garnered by shaking the likes of Ford and GM down, NOT selling electric cars.
Musk may be the equivalent of Mitt Romney or John McCain.
Imagine you're in a foxhole with a guy and he was puffing his chest out at the bar the night before saying he was going to kick ass, but when the moment of truth arrives, instead of helping you fight the enemy, he's curled up in fetal position at the bottom of the trenches, sucking his thumb, and crying for his mommy. That's McCain and Romney, and perhaps Musk. The minute you bend over they ram it in and they don't use lube. Back stabbing snakes in the grass who would sell their own mother down the river if it helped them get ahead.
Agree 100 percent. Onward!