If you had a net worth of $300 billion, what would you be doing right now?
The possibilities for how you can spend your time become infinite when you manage to accumulate and hoard a certain amount of wealth through paying your factory workers some of the lowest wages in the auto industry, union busting, and being born into money via your family’s apartheid-era emerald mine in South Africa. But for Elon Musk, the 50-year-old “technoking” of Tesla and noted father of seven, his pastime of choice is shitposting on Twitter—and as of Tuesday, he’s asking a federal judge for permission to tweet even more.
According to the Guardian, Musk’s lawyers are requesting that a judge end his 2018 agreement, also called a consent decree, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The agreement has required that some of his tweets, which could contain “written communications about information material to his company or its shareholders,” be vetted by a lawyer.
Musk, who is currently under investigation for insider trading with his brother, also asked the judge to block an SEC subpoena for record of legal approval of his November tweets asking followers whether he should sell Tesla stock. Musk’s brother notably sold his Tesla shares the day before the Twitter poll launched. Seemingly as a result of the poll, through which a majority of voters told him to sell, Musk has since sold $16.4 billion of stock.
In Musk’s request to the judge, US District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, Musk’s lawyers described the agreement with the SEC as “harassment,” “bad faith,” and a debilitating infringement on his right to free speech. But legal experts have expressed doubt about the viability of Musk’s petition, since the SEC has authority to enforce consent decrees even when those held liable by the agreement no longer wish to be. One Georgetown law professor called Musk’s arguments “an exercise in legal silliness.”
The origin story of Musk’s 2018 agreement with the SEC goes something like this: In August 2018, when the billionaire CEO was shooting the shit on Twitter, as one does, he lied that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 (hilarious!) a share. As it turns out, he did not have anywhere near enough funding actually secured to do this, prompting the SEC to forge an agreement with Musk that required him to pay $20m in civil fines and allowed lawyers to henceforth vet some of tweets that could affect Tesla’s stock price. You’ll note that some people have unironically called this particular man a “genius.”
Now, I don’t feel particularly protective of Tesla shareholders, and as for protecting the stock market from social media clownery, I actually quite enjoyed 2021’s GameStop short squeeze. I’m also an enthusiastic proponent of shitposting. But I am, however, an even more enthusiastic proponent of anything that can get Musk to shut the fuck up.
In recent months alone, Musk has used the social media platform to pitch TITS University, post Hitler memes, spread dangerous covid misinformation to his nearly 80 million followers, and harass US Senators for trying to make him pay taxes. This very active social media user is notably the same man who said shortly after the birth of his infant son that “right now there’s not much I can do” to take care of him.
All of this is to say, Musk is insufferable enough as is on the cursed website that is Twitter.com. I really don’t want to live in a version of reality that allows him to be even more unhinged than he already is.