The world’s richest person Elon Musk, who recently announced that he would buy Twitter, said on Wednesday that the microblogging platform must be politically neutral in order to deserve public trust.
“For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally,” Musk, the Chief Executive Officer of electric vehicle company Tesla, wrote in a tweet.
On Wednesday, he also tweeted a screenshot to show that Truth Social, the social media platform started by former United States president Donald Trump in October, was ahead of Twitter and Chinese social media platform TikTok, in terms of downloads on the Apple Store.
He remarked that Truth Social exists “because Twitter censored free speech”.
Trump had launched Truth Social after Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had blocked his accounts for policy violations. This was after his supporters stormed the United States Capitol building in Washington DC in January last year and clashed with the police.
Meanwhile, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Wednesday said that he had taken up the position “to change Twitter for the better, course correct where we need to, and strengthen the service”.
“Proud of our people who continue to do the work with focus and urgency despite the noise,” he wrote in a tweet.
On Monday, Agarwal had in a town hall meeting expressed uncertainty about the future of the platform once the acquisition was complete. “Once the deal closes, we don’t know which direction the platform will go,” he had said.
Musk’s takeover of Twitter
According to a regulatory filing on Monday, Musk will buy Twitter for about $44 billion (over Rs 3,36,910 crore). Twitter said that the deal was unanimously approved by its board of directors and is expected to close in 2022, pending regulatory clearance and the approval of shareholders.
After the announcement, several human rights groups had expressed concern that Musk’s stance on free speech could mean that Twitter might allow greater leeway to hate speech and misinformation, which may have an impact on offline violence.
In the past, Musk has described himself as a “free speech absolutist” and said that he did not believe Twitter was living up to its potential as a platform for free speech.
On Wednesday, he explained that his understanding of free speech was speech that “matches the law”.
“I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law,” he said. “If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”