By the end of the day, almost everyone’s weighed in on Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report founder Elon Musk’s $44 million Twitter (TWTR) – Get Twitter, Inc. Report buyout — and while he waited a few hours after the announcement, that included Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report founder and rival billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Musk, who made what he called his “best and final” offer at $54.20 per share in SEC filings earlier this month, is officially on track to become Twitter’s sole owner after the social platform agreed to be bought on the afternoon of April 25.
Twitter, China and Bezos’ Two Cents
Bezos, who had heretofore not been too vocal on the rapidly-unfolding saga over Elon Musk’s out-of-nowhere offer to buy the social media platform earlier this week, reappeared from the trench with a quote tweet to New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe’s post on how Tesla’s connections to China could pose a conflict of interest for Twitter under new leadesrhip.
“Interesting question,” Bezos tweeted in a post that many interpreted as mild Musk trolling. “Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?”
Forsythe had pointed out that China is Tesla’s second-largest market while its cars are supplied largely by Chinese battery makers.
Bezos’ concern, ostensibly, is whether China may use its leverage on Musk and his Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory to influence the social media company and its content.
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Twitter users did not let Bezos off the hook, with many pointing out that Amazon is also heavily dependent on its Chinese market.
But the tweet was likely not a genuine criticism as much of an attempt to troll Musk. Musk and Bezos, who are currently the respective first and second richest men in the world, have a long history of spatting over everything from space exploration to cryptocurrency.
Last year, Musk tweeted an emoji of a silver medal to remind Bezos that he is currently one place below him on the world’s richest people list. At the moment, Bezos is worth $177.5 billion while Musk’s net worth clocks in at $264.6 billion.
Concern over the Chinese government’s control of American social media platform is not unique to Twitter.
Despite American attempts to regulate it over its connection to the Chinese authoritarian government and countries like India blocking it outright, wildly popular Chinese platform TikTok had 1 billion active monthly users in 2019 and has only been gaining steam around the world.
In order not to run into regulatory difficulties in the U.S., TikTok has been edging toward a deal with Oracle (ORCL) – Get Oracle Corporation Report to outsource storage of its U.S. users’ information so that current Chinese owner ByteDance isn’t able to pass users’ information to the Chinese government.
China censors blocked access to Twitter and other foreign online services in 2009 a couple days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on democracy protests, The Guardian reported. China also began arresting and jailing users of Twitter and other foreign social media beginning in 2018, according to the Wall Street Journal. Twitter users were arrested for criticizing the Communist Party and state leaders, as well as discussing Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Beijing, The Journal reported.