Twitter to Hold ‘Ask Me Anything’ Session to Address Concerns About Elon Musk

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Twitter announced on Friday that it would be holding an “Ask Me Anything” session of questions concerning the role of Elon Musk, whose recent acquisition of a major stake in the company has raised both hopes and alarms that the Tesla CEO may radically overhaul the company’s content moderation policy.

In an internal email first reported by The Washington Post, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal told employees that they would have the opportunity to address concerns directly to Musk himself in a rare internal question-and-answer session, likely to assuage much of the backlash to Musk’s newfound role in the company.

“Following our board announcement, many of you have had different types of questions about Elon Musk, and I want to welcome you to ask those questions to him,” said Agrawal’s email.

The announcement follows after Musk’s purchase of a 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, which makes him the largest individual shareholder in the company. This purchase has raised eyebrows among many, as many have interpreted Musk’s acquisition as an attempt to influence the moderation policies of the ubiquitous social media platform.

For critics of Twitter, the site has become even more censorious since the resignation of co-founder Jack Dorsey as CEO and the rise of Parag Agrawal. The months immediately following Agrawal’s appointment saw a wave of high-profile bans, including of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, mRNA vaccine pioneer and critic Dr. Robert Malone, and the “illiberal” book publisher Imperium Press.

Musk’s entry into Twitter was conspicuous by design, as he prefaced the announcement of his purchase with a Twitter poll asking users whether the platform adheres to the principle that “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy” (70.4 percent of respondents voted “No,” out of over 2 million total votes). Foreshadowing his entry to the company’s board, Musk noted, “The consequences of this poll will be important.”

This premise has raised hopes among many conservatives and speech libertarians that the Tesla founder will use his influence at Twitter to reinstate the account for former President Donald Trump, who was banned from the platform in the immediate aftermath of the events at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Prior to the ban, Trump was one of Twitter’s most widely followed and controversial users. The former president was both praised and criticized for his candid, blunt style of tweeting, which stood in stark contrast to the impersonal and sanitized remarks typical of career politicians. So influential was Trump’s literary style that many of the former president’s phrases have entered the site’s common lexicon, where many such cases of references to Trump’s coinages thrive.

Epoch Times Photo
The suspended Twitter account of U.S. President Donald Trump appears on an iPhone screen in San Anselmo, Calif., on Jan. 8, 2021. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

However, Musk does not present as straightforwardly ideological in the same way as his PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, whose funding of a broad array of dissident activities and enterprises is driven by a well-documented and open interest in libertarian and post-libertarian thought. Musk’s eclectic statements and affinities make him harder to classify: Musk has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s climate policy during the latter’s presidential tenure, but the Afrikaner’s outspoken support for free speech and criticisms of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions have galvanized hopes among conservatives that Musk’s appointment to the board of directors will result in the reinstatement of Trump’s account on the site.

However, this speculation has also stirred an equal and opposite reaction among the former president’s critics, many of whom celebrate the censorship of Trump and other conservative figures and claim that Twitter’s moderation policy has been necessary to crack down on abuse and misinformation.

“As the company’s largest shareholder, Musk will no doubt have outsize influence—and his clout will be magnified by the board seat,” wrote former Reddit CEO Ellen K. Pao in a recent opinion column. “He can bend the company toward his preferences, removing reasonable policies on hateful speech and urging people who are harassed to have thicker skins.”

By former CEO Dorsey’s own admission, Twitter’s staff skews overwhelmingly progressive, suggesting that significant pushbacks to any potential Musk-driven free speech reforms may arise from the rank and file technical employees of the company. Already, some Twitter employees publicly criticized their employer for welcoming Musk, claiming that the billionaire’s role could threaten the “culture of inclusivity.”

For its part, Twitter has denied that any policy changes are imminent as a result of Musk’s appointment to the board of directors, and the company’s leadership has given Musk a warm and enthusiastic reception in public remarks.

I’m excited to share that we’re appointing [Elon Musk] to our board!” said Agrawal in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “Through conversations with Elon in recent weeks, it became clear to us that he would bring great value to our Board,” adding that Musk is both a “passionate believer” and “intense critic” of the service.

Nicholas Dolinger

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Nicholas Dolinger is a business reporter for The Epoch Times and creator of “The Beautiful Toilet” podcast.





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