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Elon Musk turned to some shady pals to fund his Twitter takeover

By Rafi Schwartz

For a guy who claims to want to make Twitter an uninhibited haven of free speech absolutism, beep-boop car guy Elon Musk has some strange ideas about how to make that happen. As it turns out, being the richest guy in the history of the human race ain’t what it used to be, and buying the one of the premier social media platforms isn’t the kind of thing even he can go it alone on — and so, as part of his Twitter takeover, Musk has evidently turned to the heads of two of the world’s more repressive governments to help finance the deal.

According to SEC documents filed Thursday, the $44 billion acquisition is being significantly funded by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, as well as Qatari national sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding LLC, to the tune of nearly $2 billion and $375 million, respectively. And while the two are not the only cash sources for Musk’s plan (fellow tech gazillionaire Larry Ellison chipped in a cool tres comas), they are particularly noteworthy given their respective countries’ conspicuously draconian attitudes toward free speech. Despite being home to the global news juggernaut Al Jazeera, Qatar ranks well toward the bottom of the Reporters Without Borders 2022 report on global press freedoms, while Prince Alwaleed bin Talal — who is rolling over his current 34,948,975 Twitter shares to help bankroll Musk’s takeover — represents a government whose attitudes toward journalists range from “public floggings” to “clandestine murder.

Musk’s Twitter purchase, if successful, will reportedly see the Tesla billionaire serving as not only owner, but “temporary CEO” for the initial run of his ownership. Since announcing his intent to buy the social media juggernaut, Musk has faced intense scrutiny over everything from the legitimacy of the pending deal to his edgelord, right-wing leanings and the accompanying risks they pose to existing users — particularly those from already marginalized communities.

On Friday, shortly after his SEC filing was published, Musk tweeted that his version of Twitter would be “super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec & server hardware” ... “if” the deal actually goes through. Hmmm.

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