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The House of Saud and the Big Banks Move in on Twitter
As Time Magazine names 'The Protester' as person of the year, news broke that Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal joins JPMorgan Chase as a major stakeholder in Twitter, the social media network that catapulted both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movement onto the global stage.
Alwaleed is the nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He invested $300m from Kingdom Holding Co., the largest company in Saudi Arabia, owned largely by the royal family.
The House of Saud's investment in Twitter is ironic given that in response to the Arab Spring, Saudia Arabia implemented a new electronic publication law that gives the government the authority to regulate all electronic content including online text, tweets and video sharing.
Occupy Wall Street protesters have already noted JP Morgan Chase's investment in Twitter and have already raised concerns about being censored. Some activists believe Twitter is working against Occupy Wall Street because #occupywallstreet tweets were occurring in greater frequency than other top trending topics which appear on Twitter's homepage, but OWS tweets did not show up as a trend.
While Twitter continues to be used as a medium for protest, those who own it look to reap the financial benefit. JP Morgan owns a large stake in Twitter indirectly via an intermediary. Alwaleed's purchase reportedly gives him a strategic three percent stake in the firm. "Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact," Alwaleed said in a statement.