Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk said Thursday the reason he’s trying to buy Twitter is not to make money but to turn it into a bastion of free speech and reduce the “civilizational risk” to freedom and democracy from excessive and opaque restrictions on expression.
Speaking at a TED event in Vancouver, Canada, on April 14, Musk said that Twitter had become “kind of the de facto town square,” a space where important conversations should be able to take place with as few constraints as reasonably possible.
“It’s just really important that people have both the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law,” Musk said.
‘Maximally Trusted and Broadly Inclusive’
Getting the balance right between freedom of expression and protection from harmful speech is a matter of existential importance, Musk told the audience on Thursday, the same day he made headlines by offering to buy Twitter for over $40 billion in cash.
Twitter told The Epoch Times it was reviewing Musk’s offer and would take decisions that it believes are in the best interest of the company and stockholders.
Reports later emerged that the company was looking to block Musk’s takeover attempt, perhaps by diluting existing stock in a move known as a “poison pill” tactic that would make it more financially challenging for an acquirer, though the company declined to comment.
Musk told the audience in Vancouver that his aim in seeking to buy Twitter was to transform it into an “inclusive arena for free speech,” taking it private and making it open-source for maximum transparency.
“In my view, Twitter should match the laws of the country,” Musk said, acknowledging reasonable legal caps on free speech like direct incitement to violence or the equivalent of crying “fire” in a movie theater, for example.
“But going beyond that and having it be unclear who’s making what changes to where, having tweets mysteriously be promoted and demoted with no insight into what’s going on, having a black box algorithm promote some things and not other things, I think this can be quite dangerous,” he said.
“My strong, intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” Musk added.
Elon Musk: Freedom of Speech on Twitter Important To Function of Democracy
By Tom Ozimek