The co-founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, has expressed opposition to the attempted hostile takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk.
Vitalik expressed himself on the Twitter affair
Vitalik Buterin turns out to be against the hype that was created after the acquisition of twitter by Elon Musk
Buterin stated that he is not opposed per se to the fact that Elon Musk may manage Twitter but that he disagrees with the enthusiasm that has been generated around this takeover attempt by a wealthy person.
Vitalik also explained that he generically disagrees with such initiatives, even when large companies make them, particularly when they involve acquiring companies that run social media.
Don't oppose Elon running twitter (at least compared to status quo), but I do disagree with the more generalized enthusiasm for wealthy people/orgs hostile-takeovering social media firms. That could easily go *very* wrong (eg. imagine an ethically-challenged foreign gov doing it) https://t.co/LDqjXh3xCK
— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) April 15, 2022
What would happen if Russia buys Twitter
In his tweets, Buterin mentioned the possibility of an ethically questionable foreign government wanting to try to buy a large social network. The reference to Russia is implicit, and in fact, if the Russian government decided to buy the control of a company like Twitter, it would surely raise a fuss.
He also mentioned the Saudi Arabian partner of Twitter that holds 5% of the company, pointing out that any climb beyond 50% would greatly increase its ability to control the policy, which now is very low.
He also added:
“I personally consider twitter to be a public utility, but where there are lots of very good reasons why that “public” should not be represented by any specific government.”
According to Buterin, this would not be a problem related only to Twitter.
Social media like Twitter are cheap to acquire
In fact, Vitalik pointed out that this is a particularly serious problem for social media because these platforms combine very high levels of influence with often low monetization, i.e., with market capitalization so low as to be relatively cheap to acquire.
For example, Twitter capitalizes about $37 billion in total, while Tesla more than $1,000. Elon Musk’s personal wealth is well over 200 billion dollars, so at least in theory, Musk could buy at least seven companies with a capitalization similar to Twitter.
However, the discourse changes for companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook), which capitalizes nearly $600 billion, or Alphabet (formerly Google), which capitalizes $1,700 billion.
So, on the one hand, Twitter may be an exception due to a still very low share price, and on the other hand, it is possible that even Elon Musk does not fall into this reasoning since, in theory, he does not represent any domestic or foreign government.
However, the combination of strong influence and low market capitalization is absolutely true in the specific case of Twitter, so the problem raised by Buterin is not only real but should definitely be taken into consideration.
Paradoxically, however, a purchase by Musk could also protect Twitter from an attempted takeover by an eventual ethically questionable government, so rather than part of the problem, this initiative could even seem part of a possible solution.
Instead, things could change drastically if Elon Musk, after having secured almost total control of Twitter, should also obtain some important political office at a national or global level.
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