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Real Time host Bill Maher supported Tesla CEO Elon Musk‘s latest move to joining Twitter‘s board of directors, saying the richest man in the world could put an end to the social media platform’s ‘control’ on free speech.
Taking questions from viewers on Friday, Maher addressed one submission that asked him and his guest, New York Times writer David Leonhardt and author Nancy MacLean, what their thoughts were on Musk becoming Twitter’s largest-single shareholder when he purchased 9.2 percent of the company on Monday.
‘I’m for it,’ Maher said.
When his guests voiced their reservations, Maher explained that he believed Twitter has gotten so ingrained into our lives and daily discourse, that it could no longer ban users as it would amount to suppression of free speech.
‘We live in a different age where Twitter is the public square now,’ Maher said. ‘If you deny someone’s right to speak on Twitter, you’re basically saying you don’t have free speech rights.’
‘I think that’s what Elon Musk wants to fix at Twitter.’
Real Time host Bill Maher he supports Elon Musk’s rise to Twitter’s board of directors, saying the Tesla CEO is what’s needed to fix social media’s ‘control’ on free speech
Musk, the richest man in the world and prominent Twitter critic, sent shockwaves when he purchased 9.2 percent of the company’s stock on Monday, making him the largest shareholder
Maher (left) explained that Twitter is the new ‘public square’ and that denying someone a chance to speak on the platform was like denying them their right to freedom of speech
Musk has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the way Twitter bans accounts, saying the company fails to ‘adhere to free speech principles’ and ‘undermines democracy.’
Many conservatives have voiced hope that Musk will reactivate former president Donald Trump’s Twitter account after he was permanently kicked off the platform in January 2021 after he was accused of stoking the Capitol riot.
Leonhardt admitted that the possible return of Trump’s account was the first thing on his mind when he hear about Musk joining the Twitter’s board of directors.
‘Are we gonna have to read Donald Trump’s tweets again, soon,’ Leonhardt said.
‘Which is a tough one, because once they took Trump off Twitter, things did get better,’ Maher joked, ‘But it’s bad for free speech.
‘We’re not living in 1980 anymore. This is a different world we live in where social media controls [free speech], Maher added.
‘So social media is sort of a… it’s living in a space that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.’
Maher also voiced his concerns that when Twitter bans people from its platform, they go on to other social media sights where they congregate with thoughts that ‘big tech and big government’ are ‘ganging up’ against them.
Leonhardt argued that while freedom of speech is important, it needs to be balanced with the dangers caused by lies, specifically noting Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
He said Maher’s description of what Twitter has become was what was given to media outlets decades ago.
‘But they didn’t air lies about election fraud,’ Leonhardt said. ‘You couldn’t turn on Walter Cronkite and hear like, ‘Actually, Barry Goldwater won the election,’ right? That’s now what you get on Twitter from Donald Trump.’
Maher, however, said Twitter can ban people for a whole slew of reasons, saying users had been banned or suspended for discussing the possibility that the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan when the social media company began cracking down on pandemic misinformation.
‘We don’t know where coronavirus came from, but there’s no reason to think it couldn’t have emerged from a lab,’ Maher said. ‘They have a lab in Wuhan that was studying coronavirus, And you couldn’t even discuss this.
‘I mean, that’s outrageous.’
Musk’s criticisms over Twitter bans has reignited conservatives hopes that former president Donald Trump’s account could be reactivated. Trump was banned a day after the January 6 Capitol riot after making false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen
Maher’s guests, New York Times writer David Leonhardt (right) and author Nancy MacLean, voiced their concerns of Musk’s rise at Twitter, saying the freedom of speech needed to be balanced with the dangers caused by spreading misinformation
MacLean also voiced her concerns about Musk joining Twitter and noted that the move has riled up employees at the Silicon Valley company to the point where Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has insisted that Musk poses no threat to the firm’s culture, saying he wouldn’t be put in charge of major decision.
Musk has agreed to sit down for a question and answer session with staff at the San Francisco-based firm after snapping up 9.2 per cent company on April 4 for $3.7 billion, making him its largest shareholder.
Many have spent the week moaning about Musk and accused him of being a transphobe over a 2020 tweet mocking pronouns, as well as a bully.
Announcing the ‘ask me anything’ session in an email sent Thursday, Agrawal wrote: ‘We say that Twitter is what’s happening and what people are talking about right now. Often, we [at] Twitter are what’s happening and what people are talking about. That has certainly been the case this week.
‘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.’
It is unclear when the session will take place, and whether it will be in-person at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, or held virtually.
Such town halls are common in Silicon Valley – but only for CEOs and other executives. It is exceptionally-rare for a shareholder to be put under the spotlight, the Washington Post reported.
Musk joked about his purchase of nine per cent of Twitter stock in this tweet sent Thursday
Workers at the firm – which has been blamed for exacerbating ongoing culture wars across the world – are said to have spent all week in a frenzy over Musk’s purchase.
Writing on an internal message board, one raged: ‘We know that he has caused harm to workers, the trans community, women, and others with less power in the world.
‘How are we going to reconcile this decision with our values? Does innovation trump humanity.’
Another wrote: ‘Quick question: If an employee tweeted some of the things Elon tweets, they’d likely be the subject.’
And a third ex-Tesla worker said they were fearful of a repeat of what they claimed was a toxic work culture fostered by Musk at the electric car firm.
That worker said: ‘I’m extremely unnerved right now, because I’ve seen what he can do firsthand.’
Agrawal insisted that Musk posed no threat to the firm’s culture, saying that he wouldn’t be put in charge of major decisions.
Musk has 80.9 million users, and regularly uses the site to communicate with his fans.
He has even found himself the subject of an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission probe over his use of the site.
In August 2018, he tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla public at $420 a share – a joke referring to cannabis, which is also known as 4:20.
But Musk was accused of meddling with the markets, and was told by the SEC that he must have his tweets checked by lawyers before posting them.
Source: Daily Mail