Musk’s Twitter: “This is exactly what many of us were worried about”
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce panel on consumer protection, said she was concerned that Twitter would become “a platform that is a cesspool of hateful content and harmful” and plans to leave if Musk allows it to become more. of a Wild West.
The immediate anxiety comes from a fake story about the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of the Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi, which Musk personally tweeted over the weekend. Musk has now deleted the tweet, but the story continues ricochet around the conservative political world.
In the larger sense, political players are worried that Musk’s promises to bring Twitter’s policies in line with his ideas about politics and society, as well as his dismissal of its top executives, will change permanently a platform that they have come to trust. on, and trust the police misinformation and hate speech.
Musk has left no doubt who is in charge of the company since he took Twitter private Thursday night. He is renamed “Chief Twit” in his official biography, and said the Securities and Exchange Commission that he dissolved the board of directors and appointed himself sole administrator.
Musk himself acknowledged concerns about Twitter’s future directly last week when he assured advertisers that Twitter would not become a “hellscape” and would be “warm and welcoming for everyone.” It also promised to create a “content moderation board” that would presumably set standards for policing the site.
Late Saturday Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity, tweeted that the company’s content moderation policies “had not changed.” Musk himself pointed to Roth’s tweet to calm concerns raised by the NBA star LeBron Jamesafter a report a 500% increase. of racial slurs on the platform 12 hours after Musk took control.
And when one user suggested that Roth should be fired, Musk tweeted this: “We have all made some questionable tweets, me more than most, but I want to be clear that I support Yoel. My sense is that he has a high integrity, and we all have the right to our political beliefs.”
For now, it’s unclear what the unhappy Democrats will do. Even his critics are still on the platform – “It’s really difficult to draw a line. Collectively, people in the public eye will know when it’s time to pick up the shop and leave,” said Jablonowski. Some have vowed to stay just to prevent it from being taken over by misinformation and trolls.
Republicans long frustrated by what they see as Twitter’s overly liberal moderation policies have launched rival platforms in recent years — notably Parler, Gettr and Donald Trump’s Truth Social — though none have become the kind of public square. which Twitter has.
Neera Tanden, the former adviser to Hillary Clinton who now serves as the White House staff secretary, on Sunday tweeted from her personal account a request for alternative platformsEliciting a handful of suggestions for social media sites outside of Musk’s orbit, with no obvious consensus and none approaching Twitter’s user base.
In the absence of a concerted Democratic effort, there have been few apparent blows to Musk.
With just eight days before the midterm elections, Musk is likely not top of mind for most lawmakers, especially Democrats who are campaigning to avoid losing control of both houses of Congress.
But on Monday morning, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) he tweeted that he asks an investigation of Musk’s investors on Twitter, particularly the involvement of Saudi Arabia. Although his request appeared to be based on a Bloomberg report that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States was looking into the matter, that report was a week old, and his tweet came early Monday morning after the weekend of Musk Pelosi. tweet. (Murphy’s office declined to comment on the timing of the letter).
Regulators in Europe have also taken note of the potential changes at Musk-era Twitter, and have warned the company that it needs to comply with EU content moderation rules, Musk said. answered their concerns.
Advocacy groups have continued to sound the alarm of what they see as Musk’s indifference to the consequences of what he puts on the platform. Bridget Todd, director of communications for the gender equity group UltraViolet, saw Musk’s weekend tweet “very seriously. I think we’ve passed the point of this being a business story about buying a company – he very real-world implications that we saw on January 6, that we saw on the attack on Pelosi.”
Yael Eisenstat, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society, also raised the alarm, but said it was unclear where advocates would go instead of Twitter. “The reality is there’s still an incredibly competitive landscape,” Eisenstat said.
Brendan Bordelon and Mohar Chatterjee contributed to this report.
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