World’s richest man is buying ‘free speech’ for $44 billion

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Musk added, “Free speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where issues vital to the future of humanity are debated.” Musk said he wanted to make Twitter’s algorithms open source, fight spam and authenticate all human accounts, along with other unspecified “new features”.

Musk soon after retweeted his quotes from the press release with rocket and heart emoticons surrounding “Yesss!!!”

As part of the deal to buy the company, Musk would also make it private, which means it would have less financial scrutiny from the SEC and generally be less transparent, which in some ways would make it private. more difficult for legislators to regulate.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the President has long been concerned about the power of major social media platforms in our daily lives,” and that the President Joe Biden has long argued that “tech platforms have to be held accountable for the damage they cause.

Musk’s previous calls for permanent bans to be lifted could allow former President Donald Trump to return to the platform (Twitter permanently banned Trump for violating policies against incitement to violence after the insurgency of the January 6, 2021). However, Trump told Fox News on Monday that he has no plans to join the platform and will remain on his own Truth Social.

“I hope Elon buys Twitter because he makes improvements there and he’s a good man, but I’m going to stick with TRUTH,” Trump told Fox News before Musk’s purchase was made official. Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich confirmed to POLITICO that Trump will not be joining Twitter.

Republican lawmakers hailed Musk’s takeover, saying it addressed their concerns about their political views being censored.

“I hope Elon Musk helps bring Big Tech’s history to censorship of users who have a different point of view under control,” the senator said. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) tweeted after confirmation of acquisition.

Likewise, the incendiary conservative representative. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), tweeted, “Freedom of expression is making a comeback.”

Later Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson tweeted, “We are back.” Carlson hadn’t tweeted since late March, when Twitter forced the removal of one of his tweets for violate its policies.

In contrast, the Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted, “Taxing the rich,” adding, “It’s absurd that one person can afford to buy Twitter for over $40 billion while working families across the country must choose between buying groceries or their prescription drugs every day. .”

Progressive groups have raised concerns that a Musk-owned Twitter could lead to more harassment and hate speech faced by some minority populations on the platform, which could alienate those groups.

“Mr. Musk: Free speech is wonderful, hate speech is unacceptable. … Don’t let Twitter become a petri dish for hate speech or lies that subvert our democracy,” the president said. NAACP, Derrick Johnson, in a statement.

Although Musk has spoken publicly about politics at length, he hasn’t spent a significant portion of his fortune on political spending. The billionaire has given nearly $100,000 to lawmakers since 2004, according to an analysis of campaign finance records. This is in contrast to fellow “PayPal Mafia” member Peter Thiel, who has donated millions this election cycle alone.

For a decade, Musk gave roughly equally to both parties, with thousands of dollars in donations to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee as well as the Republican National Campaign Committee. He donated to former President Barack Obama in 2011 and to Hillary Clinton in 2015.

But since then, Musk has started giving to Republicans more frequently. He gave $33,900 to the National Republican Campaign Committee and a Republican super PAC focused on maintaining the Republican majority in 2018. And since 2020, Musk has donated $2,800 to Republican Sens. Thomas Tillis (NC), John Corny (Texas), Susan Collins (Maine), and others, but not to Democrats.

Shortly before news broke of Musk’s purchase, he tweeted“I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that’s what free speech means.”

Emily Birnbaum contributed to this report.

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