Elon Musk issues clarification after strong reactions to free speech announcement on Twitter

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Tesla founder Elon Musk has issued a clarification after his pledge to make Twitter a platform that promotes free speech evoked strong reactions from the European Union and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Elon Musk
Photo: Twitter

Musk, who is set to acquire 100% control of Twitter, had vowed to turn the social media platform, where users could share their thoughts without any restrictions. This had evoked strong reactions across the world.

Also Read: Here’s why #leavingtwitter is trending after Elon Musk’s announcement

London Mayor Sadiq Khan had tweeted, “Free speech cannot mean a free pass for hatred. We must not forget the impacts of online hate speech, which fans the flames of prejudice and leads to appalling and tragic real-world violence. Social media companies must do more, not less, to protect their communities.”

EU’s commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, had tweeted, sharing similar sentiments. She wrote, “Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding. Mr Musk knows this well. He is familiar with European rules on automotive, and will quickly adapt to the Digital Services Act.”

European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke too said in a press conference that ‘our Digital Services Act applies to all major platforms, to ensure their power over public debate is subject to democratically validated rules to better protect fundamental rights online.’

Faced with backlash, Musk took to Twitter to issue a clarification as he wrote, “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 government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

This came in sharp contrast to his earlier tweet, which appeared to mock those, who had opposed his pledge to promote free speech on Twitter. “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all,” Musk’s earlier tweet had read.

Musk offered to buy the 100% stakes in Twitter for $54.20 per share only this month days after he declined to join the company’s board.

The Twitter board had first rejected Musk’s offer but the company appeared to take a spectacular U-turn and accepted the offer.