As Elon Musk takes over Twitter, limits on free speech are tested – SABC News

Just hours after Elon Musk ushered in a new era at Twitter Inc, the billionaire owner was inundated with requests and requests from banned account holders and world leaders.

The flood of requests underscores the challenge facing the chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ), balancing a pledge to restore free speech while preventing the platform from falling into what he called a “hell environment.” vowed in an open letter to advertisers on Thursday.

Former US President Donald Trump, who was permanently banned from Twitter on charges of inciting violence following riots in the capital on January 6, 2021, welcomed the takeover but said little about returning to Twitter. “I’m very happy that Twitter is now in good hands and no longer run by radical leftist lunatics and geeks who really hate our country.”

Dmitry Medvedev, former President of Russia and current Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council, tweeted his congratulations: “Good luck to @elonmusk in overcoming political bias and ideological dictatorship on Twitter. And give up this Starlink business in Ukraine.

Others called for Musk to reverse the penalties imposed by the social media platform. In response to @catturd2, an anonymous account with 852,000 followers known for being a big supporter of Trump’s election fraud claims and who said he was “shadow banned,” Musk tweeted, “I’ll be digging more today.” .

The editor-in-chief of Russia’s state broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonyan, asked Musk to “unban the RT and Sputnik accounts and remove the shadow ban from mine as well?”

The pressure on Musk and Twitter is mounting as he is scheduled to address Twitter staff on Friday after the deal closes.

“Hey @ElonMusk, now that you own Twitter, will you help fight Trudeau’s online censorship Bill C-11?” tweeted Canada Proud, an organization that worked for the recall vote against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“First time I’m hearing,” Musk responded in a tweet on Friday.

Musk has not provided details on how he will fight online censorship while protecting advertisers, or details on who will run the company. But he said he would form a “content moderation board with many different perspectives” and that no major decisions would be made on the matter until it meets.

He said he plans to cut jobs, leaving Twitter’s 7,500 employees to worry about their future. He also said Thursday that he didn’t buy Twitter to make more money, but “to try to help humanity, which I love.”

Musk sought to allay fears among Twitter employees that major layoffs were ahead and reassured advertisers that his past criticism of Twitter’s content moderation rules would not hurt its appeal.

Fewer than 10% of the 266 Twitter employees surveyed for messaging app Blind expect to still be on the job three months from now. Blind allows employees to submit complaints anonymously after signing up with corporate emails.

Musk fired Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal and head of legal affairs and policy Vijaya Gade, according to people familiar with the matter. He had accused them of misleading him and Twitter investors about the number of fake accounts on the platform.

Agrawal and Segal were at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco when the deal closed and were escorted away, the sources added.

Musk, who also runs the rocket company SpaceX, plans to become Twitter’s interim CEO, according to a person familiar with the matter and following an earlier report by Reuters. Musk also plans to remove permanent user bans, Bloomberg said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Twitter, Musk and executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Before closing the deal, Musk walked into Twitter’s headquarters Wednesday with a big smile and a porcelain sink, then tweeted “let that sink in.” He changed his Twitter account description to “Chief Twit.”

European regulators also reiterated earlier warnings that under Musk, Twitter must still comply with the region’s Digital Services Act, which imposes hefty fines on companies if they fail to police illegal content.

“In Europe, the bird will fly under our EU rules,” EU industry chief Thierry Breton tweeted on Friday morning.

MEP and civil rights advocate Patrick Breyer suggested that people should look for alternatives where privacy is a priority.

“Twitter already knows our personalities dangerously well because of its pervasive monitoring of our every click. Now that knowledge will fall into Musk’s hands.

Musk indicated that he sees Twitter as the basis for creating a “super app” that offers everything from money transfers to shopping and ride-hailing.

But Twitter is struggling to engage its most active users, who are vital to the business. These “heavy tweeters” make up less than 10% of the monthly total users, but generate 90% of all tweets and half of the global revenue.

Musk will face a challenge to boost revenue “given that the controversial opinions he seems to want to give more leeway to are often unpalatable to advertisers,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susanna Streeter.

As news of the deal spread, some Twitter users were quick to flag their desire to retire.

“I’d be happy to leave right away if Musk, well, acts like we all expect him to,” said a user with the account @mustlovedogsxo.

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