Elon Musk’s tweets about Ukraine, Taiwan and Kanye stoke worries about Twitter possession


The individual most certainly to personal Twitter subsequent month has proposed fixing the battle in Ukraine by letting Russia preserve territory, received reward from a high Chinese language diplomat for suggesting China take management of Taiwan, and welcomed a broadly adopted movie star again to Twitter who had simply had his Instagram account suspended for threatening Jews — all throughout the previous week.

Billionaire industrialist Elon Musk’s strikes have heightened alarm about what he’ll do with Twitter, which he has faulted for being too restrictive about authorized however false or hateful speech.

Since autocrats already use the platform to unfold lies about opponents and whip up violence and mayhem, Musk’s pursuit of approval from two of essentially the most highly effective is particularly unnerving.

“It’s an excellent illustration as to why it will be a catastrophe if Musk does come to personal Twitter,” stated Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York College’s Stern Middle for Enterprise and Human Rights. “You could possibly have provocations, whether or not engineered by Musk himself or by others, that would have world implications.”

Elon Musk could quickly personal Twitter. What may it appear to be when he does?

The newest scrutiny got here Tuesday, when outstanding geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer stated Musk had been talking with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier than tweeting out a three-point plan for Ukraine that would depart Crimea, taken by drive in 2014, in Russia’s fingers.

“I spoke with Elon two weeks in the past, and he instructed me Putin (in a direct dialog with him) was `ready to barter’ … and had outlined the minimal the Russian president would require to finish the battle,” Bremmer wrote to publication subscribers.

As phrase unfold on a second day of intensive Russian assaults on civilian inhabitants facilities in Ukraine, regulation professors speculated on whether or not Musk ought to have registered as a overseas agent.

“Logan Act” turned one in every of Twitter’s trending matters within the nation, referring to the 223-year-old regulation that bars personal residents from conducting overseas coverage.

Solely then did Musk deny chatting with Putin, since a dialog a yr and a half in the past about house points.

Musk bid for Twitter underscores the dangers of social media possession

Bremmer, a Time journal columnist and creator as a effectively as head of the Eurasia Group consultancy, stood by his account, tweeting that “Elon Musk instructed me he had spoken with Putin and the Kremlin instantly about Ukraine. he additionally instructed me what the Kremlin’s purple strains have been.”

4 days prior, Musk stated in a Twitter dialog that he was in contact with “fairly a couple of” events within the battle.

The argument over whether or not Bremmer was mistaken, Musk had been exaggerating, or Musk was backtracking from the reality did not obscure two deeper factors Bremmer made in his publication:

First, given opposition to aiding Ukraine amongst some Republicans, Musk’s Twitter takeover and the seemingly reinstatement there of former president Donald Trump and a few of his allies would unfold opposition additional and divide the nation, threatening Ukraine’s backup.

Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter ban on Donald Trump

Second, Musk’s acquisition would pit his new, free-speech enterprise in opposition to his outdated companies — SpaceX, which depends on the Pentagon and NASA, and Tesla, which depends on China for scarce bodily assets.

“Every of those three are big bets on utterly totally different futures for a technopolar world. They’re additionally essentially the most geopolitically opposed enterprise fashions I’ve ever seen a single individual pursue. Or possibly it’s the world’s greatest hedge,” Bremmer wrote.

Bret Schafer, a senior fellow on the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, stated Musk’s communications with Chinese language and Russian officers and enterprise pursuits overseas will create unprecedented dilemmas if he closes his deal to purchase Twitter.

“Most homeowners of those platforms have needed to stay impartial on points associated to politics and geopolitics,” Schafer stated. “His freewheeling fashion of speaking with authoritarians is actually going to create challenges with how the platform is perceived.”

Although Musk has stated he’ll rid Twitter of automated bots, Schafer stated there was little readability round how Musk would reply to different forms of overseas affect operations. He stated it’s unclear how Musk would deal with a Russian hack and leak operation, resembling occurred within the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, or whether or not Chinese language authorities officers ought to be allowed to affix the platform that residents can’t entry.

Lately, main social media firms “have taken a stand on the facet of democracy over autocracy,” Schafer stated. “It is going to be attention-grabbing to see what path that shifts in if and when Musk takes over.”

As a result of Twitter is far smaller than different social networks like Fb and YouTube, Musk can have a higher skill to micromanage content material moderation selections and dealings with overseas leaders than executives at different social networks, stated Rose Jackson, the director of the Democracy & Tech Initiative on the Atlantic Council. But regardless of Twitter’s smaller measurement, it wields immense affect over key determination makers in media and politics, creating distinctive nationwide safety dangers.

Jackson stated that the Committee on International Funding within the U.S., a cross-government group that critiques overseas transactions involving American corporations, “most likely isn’t ample” in addressing the nationwide safety dangers introduced by the Musk deal.

“It brings to the fore whether or not we’ve ample instruments to deal with real nationwide safety dangers and the way tech firms, and significantly info tech firms, are financed,” stated Jackson, a former entrepreneur and State Division official.

China’s maintain over Tesla raises questions on Musk’s bid for Twitter

What worries many about Twitter is that the lion’s share of Musk’s wealth is his stake in Tesla, in order that in any battle amongst world views, the platform could be most certainly to endure.

Tesla had report gross sales of its automobiles in China in September, at the same time as its competitors with native electrical car makers intensifies.

After Musk’s Ukraine tweet every week in the past, a commentator for the Chinese language Communist Occasion’s International Instances cited it and wrote to a half-million Twitter followers that Musk “believes an excessive amount of within the U.S. and West’s ‘freedom of speech.’ He might be taught a lesson.”

Inside days, Musk opined in a Monetary Instances interview that Taiwan ought to be ruled like Hong Kong, successful reward from China’s ambassador to Washington: “I wish to thank @elonmusk for his name for peace throughout the Taiwan Strait and his concept about establishing a particular administrative zone for Taiwan.”

Barrett and others stated that they weren’t afraid of Musk bringing Twitter to China and again into Russia, saying that would assist residents talk extra.

As a substitute, they fret {that a} Twitter with out a lot moderation would permit propagandists for these governments to wreak extra havoc than they already do.

“Elon Musk is entitled to his opinions and speech, however let’s simply say Freedom Home would welcome the chance to transient him extra completely on the egregious human rights violations in Russia, China and elsewhere on the earth earlier than he takes possession of one of many largest tech platforms,” stated Michael Abramowitz, president of nonprofit Freedom Home, which tracks rights globally.

“Ukrainians are combating to guard their elementary freedoms. Taiwan is a democracy the place individuals take pleasure in these freedoms every single day, and so they know the risk they’re dealing with from the PRC. We imagine that every one democracies and democracy-supporting companies ought to help and defend these freedoms globally.”

Elon Musk’s free-speech agenda poses security dangers on world stage

Accountable Tech, a left-leaning group that has advocated for regulation of tech giants, despatched a letter final week to congressional leaders that known as for an investigation into Musk’s relationships with overseas actors. The letter says Congress ought to use its subpoena powers to find out whether or not Musk is in communication with senior officers on the Kremlin or in China “who may use this acquisition to undermine American nationwide safety pursuits.”

“It’s vital that Congress instantly examine the nationwide safety implications of this acquisition and take steps, as obligatory, to guard American democracy and independence,” the group’s leaders, Nicole Gill and Jesse Lehrich, wrote.


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