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U.S. House Republican to FTC: Preserve records of Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition

Credit: Wall Street Journal/YouTube

U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, who is the top Republican on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, is requesting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) preserve any records related to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s acquisition of social media platform Twitter.

Jordan expressed a level of concern regarding a request from the Open Markets Institute (OMI), which called for the FTC and FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to investigate and stop the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter by Musk. Jordan called OMI “an extreme left-wing political organization,” and accused the group of limiting free speech.

“OMI claims without evidence that Mr. Musk’s purchase is a ‘threat to free communications and debate in the United States.’ In reality, Mr. Musk has proposed ‘softening [Twitter’s] stance on content moderation,’ which will increase speech, and he has said that ‘Twitter should be more cautious when deciding to take down tweets or permanently ban users’ accounts.’ OMI’s desire to restrict and suppress free speech online helps explain why it supports a package of ill-advised Democrat-led antitrust bills that will lead to more censorship, and thus less speech, in the digital arena,” Jordan said.

“We are concerned that OMI – where you were previously employed as Legal Director – may be trying to leverage its close relationship with you to take action to further limit free speech online,” Jordan said in the letter to the FTC.

Just after the Twitter deal was announced, reports stated the FTC was looking into whether Musk obliged with an antitrust reporting requirement as he began to stock up on shares of Twitter in late January. A report from The Information showed the FTC was concerned about whether Musk was “initially buying as someone who wanted to influence Twitter management or whether he saw himself as more of a passive shareholder.”

Musk’s purchase of Twitter shares may have also violated SEC deadlines of when shareholders are required to disclose they own more than 5 percent of a public company. Musk filed his disclosure three weeks after he passed the 5 percent threshold, which is a violation of the agency’s timeframe.

Jordan has been vocally supportive of Musk’s purchase of Twitter, especially as the Tesla CEO’s main reasoning for acquiring the platform was to fight censorship through open-sourcing the network’s algorithm. Musk said Twitter was comparable to a 2022 version of a Town Square and is needed because it is an “inclusive arena for free speech.” Jordan believes that Musk may bring some Republican politicians who have been banned from the platform back by reactivating their accounts.

“We are concerned that OMI – where you were previously employed as Legal Director – may be trying to leverage its close relationship with you to take action to further limit free speech online,” Jordan said in the letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “Furthermore, this letter serves as a formal request to preserve all records and materials relating to Mr. Musk’s pending acquisition of Twitter. You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that is or may be potentially responsive to this congressional inquiry.”

Musk and Twitter reached a deal for $44 billion, or $54.20 per share for the platform, on April 25.

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U.S. House Republican to FTC: Preserve records of Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition
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