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Elon Musk mocks Washington Post after opinion calls to stop ‘rich’ controlling media platforms


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Tesla CEO Elon Musk laughed at the Washington Post’s expense in response to an op-ed condemning his growing influence on Twitter.

Musk shocked the world this week when it was revealed he had bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter, Inc., making him the biggest shareholder in the social media giant. He made even more headlines when it was announced he would be joining Twitter’s board of directors, suggesting he could influence Twitter’s policies in support of free speech principles.

The Post published an article on Friday titled “Elon Musk’s view of ‘free speech’ will be bad for Twitter.” In it, tech investor and former Reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao denounced the billionaire’s “welcome” to Twitter, calling it “very disconcerting – a slap in the face, even.”

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“Musk has been open about his preference for Twitter to do less to restrict speech that many consider hateful, abusive or dangerous. Given his newfound influence, the way he himself used the platform bodes ill for his future,” Pao wrote. “Musk, who has nearly 81 million followers, often hits out in his tweets, displaying very little empathy. He called a British caver who helped rescue young trapped Thai divers ‘a type of pedo’ (beat a libel suit over the insult but adding to his reputation as a bully.) In February, he tweeted, then deleted, a meme comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.

FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
(REUTERS/Mike Blake/File photo)

Pao mocked the tech mogul for calling himself a “free speech absolutist”, writing, “like many ‘free speech’ advocates, he willfully ignores that private companies are free to set certain limits on their platforms”.

“Twitter has made strides to eliminate hate and harassment and to give users more control over how they share their opinions…It has added features that allow users to limit who can reply to their tweets, created labels for misleading content and banned President Donald Trump’s account. After all bringing Musk to the board seems like a big step backwards,” Pao wrote. “He can bend the company to his preferences, removing reasonable hate speech policies and urging harassed people to be thicker-skinned.”

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She continued, “Musk’s appointment to Twitter’s board shows that we need regulation of social media platforms to prevent the wealthy from controlling our communication channels. To start, we need consistent definitions. harassment and privacy-violating content Most businesses, I guess such regulations would be welcome… If platforms continue to push for growth at all costs – without such regulations – people will continue to be harmed Those harmed will be disproportionately those who have been harmed for centuries – women and members of marginalized racial groups and ethnic groups Those who will benefit from unrestricted amplification of their views will also be the same people who have enjoyed this privilege for centuries.

Elon Musk mocks Washington Post after opinion calls to stop ‘rich’ controlling media platforms

Ellen Pao speaks to the media after losing her gender discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in San Francisco, California March 27, 2015. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

The irony of the Washington Post’s publication of Pao’s remark calling for “regulation of social media platforms to prevent the wealthy from controlling our communication channels” has not been lost on critics, who pointed out that the newspaper is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Even Musk himself was in on the joke.

“Lmaooo,” Musk reacted to the op-ed excerpt.

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Several members of the media have sounded the alarm over Musk’s growing involvement with Twitter.

Bloomberg Opinion senior columnist and MSNBC political analyst Tim O’Brien called the decision “bad news” for free speech,

“It’s worrying because it’s not ideal to have a free speech absolutist who isn’t absolutely pro-free speech running a media company, or even proximity,” O’Brien wrote. “And he’s here to scare Twitter’s management. Someone who has complained that their free speech is ‘chilled’ perhaps should be sensitive to those nuances.”

Elon Musk mocks Washington Post after opinion calls to stop ‘rich’ controlling media platforms

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
(REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo)

CNN’s left-leaning media correspondent Brian Stelter said there was a “fear” that Musk would become a Twitter shareholder.

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“There’s interest in billionaires, there’s celebration of Musk. There’s also fear, I think, sometimes or distrust of – okay, so here’s the man richest man on the planet who just bought a big chunk of one of our most important communication tools,” Stelter said. “He’s also one of the biggest satellite owners in the world. So he’s incredibly powerful, incredibly, I don’t know, am I allowed to use the word ‘weird’ when I’m talking about Elon Musk ?”

MSNBC political analyst Anand Giridharadas compared Musk’s Twitter investment to “arsonists dressed as firefighters.”

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