Elon Musk’s tweets about Ukraine, Taiwan and Kanye raise concerns about Twitter ownership

The person most likely to have Twitter next month proposes a solution to the war in Ukraine by letting Russia retain territory, won praise from a top Chinese diplomat for suggesting China take control of Taiwan and welcomed back to Twitter a well-regarded celebrity who has just Owning his Instagram account was suspended for threatening Jews – all within the past week.

The move by billionaire industrialist Elon Musk has raised concerns about how he will handle Twitter, which he accuses of being too strict about legal but false or hateful speech.

Musk’s search for the approval of two of the most powerful men is especially troubling, as dictators have used the platform to spread lies about their opponents and incite violence and chaos.

“It’s a good example of why Musk actually owning Twitter would be a disaster,” said Paul Barrett, associate director of NYU’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. “You can have provocations, whether it’s Whether it was designed by Musk himself or someone else, it could have a global impact.”

Elon Musk may soon own Twitter. What will it look like when he does?

The latest scrutiny came on Tuesday, when prominent geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer said Musk had been talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin before tweeting A three-point plan for Ukraine that would bring Crimea, which was captured by force in 2014, into Russian hands.

“I spoke with Elon two weeks ago, and he told me Putin (in direct conversations with him) was ‘ready to negotiate’ … and outlined the bare minimum that the Russian president would need to end the war,” Bray said. Write letters to newsletter subscribers by default.

As news spread a day after Russia’s intensive attack on Ukrainian civilian centers, law professors wondered whether Musk should register as a foreign agent.

One of the trending topics on Twitter in the country, the “Logan Act” refers to a 223-year-old law that bars private citizens from conducting foreign policy.

Until then, Musk Denies talking to Putinsince the conversation on space issues a year and a half ago.

Musk’s bid for Twitter highlights risks of social media ownership

Bremer, a columnist and writer for Time magazine and head of consulting firm Eurasia Group, stood by his claims, tweeting: “Elon Musk told me that he had a relationship with Putin and the Kremlin. The Palace talked directly about Ukraine. He also told me what the Kremlin’s red line was.”

Four days ago, Musk said in a Twitter conversation that he and “Very few” parties in the war.

The debate over whether Bremer was wrong, whether Musk was exaggerating, or whether Musk strayed from the truth failed to obscure two deeper points that Bremer made in his newsletter:

First, Musk’s Twitter takeover and the possible reinstatement of former President Donald Trump and some of his allies in the country will further widen the opposition and divide the country, threatening Ukraine’s support, given that some Republicans are opposed to helping Ukraine.

Elon Musk says he will revoke Donald Trump’s Twitter ban

Second, Musk’s acquisition would pit his new, free speech business against his old ones — SpaceX, which relies on the Pentagon and NASA, and Tesla, which relies on China’s scarce material resources.

“Each of these three is a huge bet on a radically different future in the tech polar world. They are also the most geopolitically opposed business model pursued by a man I’ve ever seen. Or it could be the biggest hedge in the world ,” Bremer wrote.

Brett Schaefer, a senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at Germany’s Marshall Fund, said that if Musk completes the deal to buy Twitter, his communications with Chinese and Russian officials and overseas business interests will create unprecedented difficulties.

“Most owners of these platforms have had to remain neutral on issues related to politics and geopolitics,” Schaeffer said. “His freewheeling style of communicating with dictators will certainly challenge perceptions of the platform.”

While Musk has said he will get rid of Twitter’s automated bots, Schaeffer said it’s unclear how Musk will respond to other types of foreign influence operations. He said it was unclear how Musk would handle Russian hacking and leaks, such as the one that occurred on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, or whether Chinese government officials should be allowed to join platforms that citizens cannot access. A Saudi prince plans to keep his stake in Twitter after the deal closes, even though a former Twitter employee was convicted of government surveillance of dissidents.

In recent years, major social media companies have “seen on the side of democracy, not authoritarianism,” Schaeffer said. “It will be interesting to see what changes if and when Musk takes over.”

Because Twitter is much smaller than other social networks such as Facebook and YouTube, Musk will be better equipped than executives at other social networks to micromanage content moderation decisions and deal with foreign leaders, said Ross Jackson, director of the Initiative for Democracy and Technology. Atlantic Council. However, despite its small size, Twitter has outsized influence over key decision makers in the media and political spheres, posing unique national security risks.

Jackson said CFIUS, an intergovernmental group that reviews foreign deals involving U.S. companies, “may not be adequate” to address the national security risks posed by Musk’s deal.

“It highlights whether we have adequate tools to address real national security risks and how tech companies, especially information technology companies, are financing,” said Jackson, a former entrepreneur and State Department official.

China’s grip on Tesla raises questions over Musk’s Twitter bid

What worries many about Twitter is that the largest share of Musk’s wealth is his stake in Tesla, so the platform is most likely to suffer when worldviews clash.

Tesla’s September car sales in China hit a record high despite intensifying competition with local electric car makers.

According to recent whistleblower complaints and testimony from former security chief Peter Zatko, Twitter already has problems with China and may gather information about its critics through advertising and espionage. The FBI warned the company that a Chinese intelligence officer was working there, he said.

After Musk’s tweet in Ukraine a week ago, a commentator for the Chinese Communist Party’s Global Times quoted the tweet and wrote to half a million Twitter followers, saying Musk “believes too much in the U.S. and the West” remarks Freedom’.” He’ll be taught a lesson. “

Within days, Musk said in an interview with the Financial Times that Taiwan should be governed like Hong Kong, winning praise from China’s ambassador to Washington: “I want to thank @elonmusk for his call for peace across the Taiwan Strait, and his talk about building a Taiwan Special Administrative Region.”

Barrett and others said they were not afraid of Musk taking Twitter back to China and back to Russia, saying it could help citizens communicate more.

Instead, they worry that Twitter, without much moderation, will allow these government propagandists to do more damage than they already do.

“Elon Musk is entitled to his opinions and speeches, but let’s just say that before he owns one of the largest companies, Freedom House is pleased to have the opportunity to introduce him to Russia, China and the rest of the world more thoroughly Serious violation of human rights. Technology platforms,” ​​said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, a nonprofit that tracks global rights.

“Ukrainians are fighting to protect their fundamental freedoms. Taiwan is a democracy, people enjoy these freedoms every day, and they know they face threats from the People’s Republic of China. We believe that all democracies and businesses that support democracy should be in Support and defend these freedoms globally.”

Elon Musk’s free speech agenda poses security risk on global stage

Accountable Tech, a left-leaning group advocating regulation of tech giants, sent a letter to congressional leaders last week demanding an investigation into Musk’s ties to foreign actors. Congress should use its subpoena powers to determine whether Musk has communicated with senior Kremlin or Chinese officials “who may have used this acquisition to undermine U.S. national security interests,” the letter said.

“Congress must immediately investigate the national security implications of this acquisition and, if necessary, take steps to protect American democracy and independence,” wrote the group’s leaders, Nicole Gill and Jesse Lerich.

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