Elon Musk, the world's richest man, decided to become Twitter's largest individual shareholder and join the company's board after the Babylon Bee, a Christian satirical fake news website, was banned from the social media platform.
CEO Seth Dillon said Tuesday that Musk contacted the Babylon Bee shortly after Twitter had "locked out" the faith-based jokesters because of a tweet naming Rachel Levine, the Biden administration's transgender assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, "Man of the Year." According to Dillon, during their conversation, the Tesla CEO and billionaire raised the possibility of buying Twitter outright in response to the Bee's account being suspended.
"Musk reached out to us before he polled his followers about Twitter's commitment to free speech. He wanted to confirm that we had, in fact, been suspended. He even mused on that call that he might need to buy Twitter," Dillon tweeted Tuesday. "Now he's the largest shareholder and has a seat on the board."
Musk reached out to us before he polled his followers about Twitter's commitment to free speech. He wanted to confirm that we had, in fact, been suspended. He even mused on that call that he might need to buy Twitter. Now he's the largest shareholder and has a seat on the board.— Seth Dillon (@Seth Dillon) 1649162992
Musk is a fan of the Babylon Bee's satire. In December, he joined Dillon, website editor in chief Kyle Mann, and former creative director Ethan Nicolle for a 90-minute in-depth interview on "wokeness, Elizabeth Warren, taxing the rich, the Metaverse, which superhero Elon would be, and how the left is killing comedy."
On March 24, Musk fueled rampant speculation that he would either attempt to take over Twitter or launch a competing social media platform when he polled his followers about whether they believe Twitter "rigorously adheres" to the principle that "Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy."
"The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully," he cryptically tweeted.
Days later, a regulatory filing indicated Musk had purchased a 9% stake in Twitter Inc. to become the company's largest individual shareholder. Then on Tuesday, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal announced that Musk will be appointed to the company's board.
He\u2019s both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on @Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!— Parag Agrawal (@Parag Agrawal) 1649161971
"He's both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need on Twitter, and in the boardroom, to make us stronger in the long-term. Welcome Elon!" said Agrawal.
In response, Musk said he is, "Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!"
In an interview with the Washington Times Monday, Dillon said he does not believe that the Babylon Bee's suspension was the "sole reason" that Musk got involved with Twitter.
"Censorship is pervasive on the platform, and he‘s been concerned about it for some time. But I do think the absurdity of his favorite satire site getting suspended factored into his decision. Perhaps it was the last straw,” said Dillon.
The Bablyon Bee was suspended under Twitter rules prohibiting "hateful conduct" for "misgendering" Levine, a male who presents as female. Conservatives and others who hold traditional or religious beliefs about sex and gender and who post about those beliefs on social media are likely to violate community guidelines that prohibit so-called hate speech.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Turning Point USA CEO Charlie Kirk were among those whose accounts were frozen last month for referring to Levine as a man, in violation of Twitter policy.
To have its account reinstated, the Babylon Bee must delete the offending tweet, but the company has refused to do so. "Truth is not hate speech," Dillon proclaimed on Mar. 20, after the account was locked. "If the cost of telling the truth is the loss of our Twitter account, then so be it."