Musk wants free speech on Twitter, but has spent years silencing critics.

Elon Musk Ramen His biggest promise to take over Twitter is to turn it into a platform for free speech with few restrictions. But Musk, known for being sensitive to criticism, has a mixed record of defending his cause.

The 50-year-old billionaire has donated more than $6 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the past five years, making it one of the most substantial donors, and has discussed freedom of the press several times with the organization’s executive director. However, Musk shows little tolerance for comments in his own tweets, public comments, and policies of the companies he operates that do not flatter him or the company or reflect employee criticism of his workplace.

At Tesla and SpaceX, Musk has a long track record of silencing or punishing anyone who opens up to the public for criticism of a project or practice. Workers must sign nondisclosure agreements and arbitration clauses that prevent taking their employers to court.

Meanwhile, Musk uses his Twitter account, which has more than 80 million followers and fan bases, to publicly ridicule others, from local health officials at the beginning of the pandemic to Parag Agrawal, now Twitter’s CEO.

At a TED event last week, Musk defined Twitter’s goals: Then we have freedom of expression.”

But those who said something Musk didn’t like saw their reputation publicly tarnished. British caver Vernon Unsworth, who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in Thailand, called Musk’s efforts in 2018 a “PR stunt.” Musk retaliated by calling him “pedo Guy.” He then paid $50,000 to a suspicious private detective to investigate Unsworth’s background in England and Thailand. He also tried to fire journalist Ryan Mac, who was covering Unsworth’s defamation lawsuit against Musk.

false rumors

That same year, Musk pursued Martin Tripp, an employee at Tesla’s battery plant in Nevada. Tripp saw himself as an idealist looking to improve the company’s operations. Musk saw him as a dangerous enemy, engaging in sabotage and sharing data with the media and “unknown third parties”.

Tesla’s PR department has spread false rumors that Tripp may have been killed and threatened to “shoot the scene.”

Another employee was fired six days after posting a YouTube video of his Tesla Model 3 crashing into a pylon while using an “FSD beta”, an early version of the software that Tesla had distributed to about 100,000 people.

And there is the case of Jack Sweeney, a Florida teenager who tracks private jets. A few months ago, Musk contacted him and offered him $5,000 to close his “Elon’s Jet” account, Sweeney said. Musk saw this as a security risk. Sweeney demanded $50,000, but Musk refused. The billionaire then blocked some social media accounts linked to Sweeney.

If Musk is responsible for Twitter policy, he told TED that blocking people should be considered only as a last resort. If it’s a gray area, it’s preferable to leave the content as it is, he said.

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It’s difficult to clearly understand what Musk made on Twitter. Partly because he significantly disbanded Tesla’s communications team in the United States and responded little to questions from the financial press. Several journalists covering Musk’s company were blocked by Musk on Twitter. Musk did not respond to requests for comment via email.

Musk tweeted in March that “Starlink, a satellite-based internet service for SpaceX currently operating in Ukraine, will not block Russian state-owned news sources that have been blocked by some social media platforms,” ​​he tweeted in March. libertarian absolutist”. at that time.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in an email: “He and I have talked a lot about the issue of freedom of the press and we know he is very passionate about advocating for freedom of the press.” Romero attended a TED conference in Vancouver last week and exchanged messages shortly after Musk and Musk’s onstage conversation. “I believe Elon is a true civil libertarian.”

However, Musk has already cited a few instances where he believes content on Twitter should be blocked. At TED, he said that Twitter should continue to stop content on a geographic basis because it is “bound by the laws of the countries in which it operates”. For example, in Germany, it is illegal to deny that the Holocaust happened, so Twitter hides the tweet from that country.

Musk also said he wants to ban cryptocurrency scammers from the site. The billionaire persona and his popularity among cryptocurrency investors have been used to deceive people in the past.

The risk is to prevent some people from using the platform because they feel it is insecure or prone to abuse.

Musk tweeted on Tuesday a position similar to that of Metaplatform CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying, “The policy of a social media platform is good if the extreme 10% of the left and the right are equally unhappy.

The risk is to prevent some people from using the platform because they feel it is insecure or prone to abuse.

Emma Llansó, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Free Expression Project, said Musk’s focus was on “the idea that freedom of expression means not destroying anything.” Said it was fitting. But if people stop talking for fear of being bullied or harassed, “it can really preclude many people and communities from engaging in online discourse.”

It’s unclear whether Musk’s tweet was removed from Twitter, but since August 2018, third parties, including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, have sued Musk for fraud over his infamous “financing” tweets. His account has been subjected to intense scrutiny by The phrase was part of the message that he was considering taking Tesla private, which caused the stock to soar.

Musk and Tesla did not admit their fault and ended the dispute by agreeing to pay $20 million each. Musk also agreed not to tweet on certain topics without the prior approval of a Tesla attorney.

Elon Musk

Another Musk tweet came under investigation by the National Labor Relations Board. Even in 2018, the post threatened to lose stock options if workers unionized.

But it’s Twitter’s own efforts to moderate the speech that have recently fueled Musk’s contempt. He said companies should resort to banning users less often. It was speculated that Musk could restore the account of former President Donald Trump if he became the owner of Twitter.

“It’s always difficult to leave it to humans to decide what speeches should and shouldn’t be allowed,” said Clay Calvert, director of the Marion B Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida. “One answer for those who oppose Twitter’s content moderation policy is to create your own company.”

Or, for Musk, buy Twitter. — Dana Hull, Sarah Frier and Maxwell Adler, (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP

Musk wants free speech on Twitter, but has spent years silencing critics.

Source link Musk wants free speech on Twitter, but has spent years silencing critics.

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