‘Against censorship that goes far beyond the law’: Elon Musk on free speech post-Twitter deal

Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter was made official on Monday, and since then he’s been busy doing what he does best: tweeting. Musk has now clarified his stance on free speech since then in a new tweet, claiming that he is against any kind of censorship that goes far beyond the law. The SpaceX owner said in his view free speech simply means that which matches the law.

“The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all. By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people,” he wrote on his Twitter feed.

It should be noted that ‘free speech’ and ‘censorship’ rules are different in each country. In the United States, the first amendment protects freedom of speech and the press. In India, while Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution ensures freedom of speech and expression the first amendment ensures “reasonable restrictions” on the same.

Given Twitter is a global service, it will have to follow the idea of free speech as ‘defined’ by each country’s laws, at least if one goes by Musk’s definition for now. It should also be noted that the law in many countries may not necessarily ban certain kinds of hate speech or deem it illegal. Would Twitter then ‘ban’ such speech, is what is not clear. Just how does Twitter plan to deal with ‘censorship’ now that Musk is in charge remains unclear, especially with regard to its existing content moderation.

Interestingly, he also replied to a tweet which had a screenshot of a Politico story about Twitter’s current head of legal Vijaya Gadde apparently crying in a meeting after the billionaire’s takeover of the company. The accompanying tweet by Saagar Enjeti said, “Vijaya Gadde, the top censorship advocate at Twitter who famously gaslit the world on Joe Rogan’s podcast and censored the Hunter Biden laptop story, is very upset about the Elon Musk takeover.

Musk responded to the account saying that “suspending the Twitter account of a major news organisation for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.” This was in reference to Twitter suspending New York Post’s account after it ran stories about Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The account was suspended because Twitter said that the article in question was based on hacked materials policy. It has also limited the article’s spread.

It was reported by Reuters yesterday that there is considerable uncertainty among Twitter employees. CEO Parag Agrawal told employees on Monday that the future of the social media firm is uncertain after the deal during a company-wide employee townhall.

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