FOX Business’s Gerri Willis joined ‘America Reports’ to discuss Twitter employees’ response to Elon Musk buying 9.2% of the company’s stock and becoming its largest shareholder.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk had some fun at the expense of The Washington Post in a response to an op-ed condemning his growing influence with Twitter.
Musk shocked the world this week when it was revealed he purchased 9.2% stake in Twitter, Inc., making him the largest shareholder in the social media giant. He made even more headlines when it was announced that he was joining Twitter’s board of directors, suggesting he could have influence over Twitter’s policies in favor of free speech principles.
The Post published a piece on Friday titled, “Elon Musk’s vision of ‘free speech’ will be bad for Twitter.” In it, tech investor and former Reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao bashed the billionaire’s bought-in “welcome” to Twitter, calling it “highly disconcerting — a slap in the face, even.”
“Musk has been open about his preference that Twitter do less to restrict speech that many see as hateful, abusive or dangerous. Given his new influence, the way he himself has used the platform bodes ill for its future,” Pao wrote. “Musk, who has nearly 81 million followers, often punches down in his tweets, displaying very little empathy. He called a British caver who helped to rescue trapped young Thai divers ‘a pedo guy’ (beating a defamation suit over the slur but adding to his reputation as a bully). In February, he tweeted, then deleted, a meme comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.”
FILE PHOTO: SpaceX founder Elon Musk. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
(REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo)
Pao mocked the tech mogul for calling himself a “free-speech absolutist,” writing, “like many ‘free speech’ advocates, he willfully ignores that private companies are free to establish some limits on their platforms.”
“Twitter made strides to remove hate and harassment and to give users more control over how they share their opinions… It added features that let users limit who could reply to their tweets, created labels for misleading content and banned President Donald Trump’s account. After all that, bringing Musk onto the board seems like a big step backward,” Pao wrote. “He can bend the company toward his preferences, removing reasonable policies on hateful speech and urging people who are harassed to have thicker skins.”
She continued, “Musk’s appointment to Twitter’s board shows that we need regulation of social-media platforms to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication. For starters, we need consistent definitions of harassment and of content that violates personal privacy. Most companies, I suspect, would welcome such regulations… If platforms continue to push for growth at all costs — without such regulations — people will continue to be harmed. The people harmed will disproportionately be those who have been harmed for centuries — women and members of marginalized racial and ethnic groups. The people who benefit from unrestricted amplification of their views will also be the same people who have benefited from that privilege for centuries.”
Ellen Pao speaks to the media after losing her high profile gender discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in San Francisco, California March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
The irony of The Washington Post publishing Pao’s remark calling for “regulation of social media platforms to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication” was not lost among critics, who pointed out that the paper is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Even Musk himself was in on the joke.
“Lmaooo,” Musk reacted to the op-ed excerpt.
Several members of the media have been sounding the alarm about Musk’s growing involvement with Twitter.
Bloomberg Opinion senior columnist and MSNBC political analyst Tim O’Brien called the move “bad news” for free speech,
“That’s worrisome because it’s not ideal to have a free speech absolutist who isn’t absolutely in favor of free speech at the helm of — or even close to — a media company,” O’Brien wrote. “And he’s in it to scare Twitter’s management. Somebody who has complained that his free speech is being ‘chilled’ should, perhaps, be sensitive to those nuances.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
(REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)
CNN’s left-wing media correspondent Brian Stelter said there’s a “fear” about Musk becoming a Twitter shareholder.
“There’s interest in billionaires, there’s celebration of the Musk. There’s also fear, I think, sometimes or wariness of – okay, so here’s the richest man on the planet who just bought a big chunk of one of our most important communications tools,” Stelter said. “He’s also one of the biggest owners of satellites in the world. So he’s incredibly powerful, incredibly, I don’t know, am I allowed to use the word ‘strange’ when talking about Elon Musk?”
MSNBC political analyst Anand Giridharadas compared Musk’s investment towards Twitter to “arsonists cosplaying as firefighters.”