For years, Elon Musk has been using Twitter to publicly share his opinions about the social media platform he’s now struck a deal to buy.
Following a whirlwind few weeks marked by a very public back-and-forth between Musk and Twitter, the company said Monday that it had agreed to sell itself to the world’s richest man in a roughly $44 billion deal that will take it private.
The deal, which is expected to close this year, puts a new spotlight on the billionaire’s ever evolving and sometimes erratic views towards Twitter over the years, many of which he has shared on Twitter itself.
The billionaire has tweeted about Twitter specifically dozens of times over the past decade, revealing a vertigo-inducing relationship marked by posts ranging from “I love Twitter” to “Is Twitter dying?”
Use the tool below to look through posts Musk has made on Twitter relating to Twitter.
Methodology: This tool shows tweets made by Elon Musk where he's used the keywords 'Twitter' or 'tweet' since his account was made not including deleted tweets. It also shows all his tweets relating to Twitter since January 1, 2022, even if they do not include those keywords. This is not an exhaustive library of all the tweets that Musk has made about Twitter.
In his nearly 13 years on the platform, Twitter has become an important part of Musk’s personal brand. It’s a place where he communicates to his more than 80 million followers about his business ventures, lashes out at people he views as detractors, makes market-moving commentary about crypto currencies and shares the occasional meme.
To put the relationship between Musk and Twitter in his own words, he quipped in a 2019 tweet: “Some people use their hair to express themselves, I use Twitter.”
Musk’s push to buy Twitter outright notably came after he declined a seat on the company’s board, a move some corporate governance experts speculated may have been because such a role would have come with the expectation that Musk stops tweeting criticisms about the company.
Trying to get Musk to stop tweeting about companies, however, is almost a prologue to how he ended up seeking to buy Twitter. Musk’s tweets about Tesla have landed him in hot water, multiple times, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. His yearslong feud with the SEC dates back to his now-infamous 2018 tweet stating, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
The nine-word tweet sent Tesla stock surging at the time, but the SEC then accused him of misleading investors. Musk and regulators eventually reached a deal that included, among other provisions, a requirement that Musk gain pre-approval from other Tesla executives prior to tweeting about the company. Seemingly ever since, Musk has opined about what he sees as attacks on “free speech.”
The saga continued earlier this year as Tesla disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the SEC after Musk asked his Twitter followers last year if he should sell 10% of his stake in the company. In March, responding to Musk challenging the subpoena in part on first amendment rights, an SEC regulator urged a federal judge to allow his tweets to continue to be scrutinized.
A few days later, on March 26, Musk tweeted that he is giving "serious thought" to creating his own social media platform, claiming Twitter does not uphold principles of free speech. Approximately a week after that, Musk bought a more than 9% stake in Twitter and became the tech giant’s largest shareholder. Soon after, on Monday, Twitter said it had agreed to sell itself to Musk entirely.
"The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing," Twitter independent board chair Bret Taylor said in a statement announcing the deal, which he described as “the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders."
Musk, meanwhile, doubled down on his positioning himself as a champion of “free speech.”
"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," Musk said in a statement Monday. "Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
One of Musk’s first tweets’ specifically about Twitter, posted in 2017, was simply: “I love Twitter.” The tweet received a “Same” reply from then-CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as a reply from a user suggesting he should buy it. “How much is it?” Musk tweeted at the time, years before he formally submitted his bid for the company.
Flash forward to 2020, and he started getting vocal about trolls and bots on the platform “adversely affecting public discourse” and complained that the “crypto scam level on Twitter is reaching new levels.”
This year, Musk’s tweets about Twitter markedly shifted to start airing more specific grievances about how the platform operates. He attacked the company for “spending engineering resources” on creating NFT profile pictures instead of addressing spam accounts. He has taken aim at Twitter’s algorithm multiple times, calling for it to be open source, meaning it’s publicly available for anyone to view, rework and use for other purposes.
More recently, Musk has suggested the stakes are high for the platform to bolster free speech. “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” he tweeted last month.
And in his final tweet before news broke that Twitter had accepted his takeover bid, Musk continued his refrain, tweeting on Monday morning: “I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.”