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Twitter’s prospective buyer Elon Musk said on Thursday users of the service should be able to say what they wanted, including “pretty outrageous things,” as long as these were covered by the law, Bloomberg reported.
Taking to the microblogging site itself to talk about free speech — a subject as passionate to him as his Tesla electric car company and Space X orbit travel enterprise — Musk said freedom of speech did not equate to freedom of reach, according to people who participated in his conversation with Twitter employees.
The conversation itself was a non-public event. Thus media access to what Musk said was limited to interviews held separately by news organizations with those who participated in the chat with their prospective owner, who’s also the world’s richest man based on his holdings of the super-valuable Tesla stock.
During his more than hour-long chat with the employees, Musk reportedly said Twitter users should be able to say “pretty outrageous things” as long as those things are within the parameters of the law.
The other widely-reported quote from Musk was that “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach.”
One of Twitter’s most-prolific users, with more than 98 million followers, Musk has expressed concern with the company’s moderation policies. This included Twitter’s decision in January 2021 to ban former US president Donald Trump from the platform on charges that tweets he issued had encouraged his supporters to storm the US Capitol building, after his election loss in November 2020.
In March this year, Musk tweeted out a poll that asked Twitter users whether the site adhered to the principle of free speech. The poll, however, showed that most Americans did not have a problem with Twitter or other social media companies removing posts that included misinformation, promotion of violence and a hazard to the public. While 73% of respondents to the Musk poll said they supported removing posts that probably contained false information, just 20% said they opposed removing those posts.
Musk has offered to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion and take the company private, away from the New York Stock Exchange. But like many dealings of the outspoken billionaire, the Twitter acquisition itself has been riddled with controversy from day one, with Musk demanding that the company be absolutely transparent with fake accounts on the site and that its employees, except for the super talented, all on site instead of from home — a practice that became popular during the two-year long coronavirus pandemic.
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