Jeff Bezos questioned whether China could gain influence over Twitter as the result of Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media company — but after raising the prospect, Bezos said he does not think Musk will pursue a path of censorship.
“Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Bezos asked when retweeting a post about Tesla’s ties to China.
“My own answer to this question is probably not. The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter,” Bezos later added. “But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.”
Musk — the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, a company known for its popular electric vehicles — has reached a deal to buy Twitter. The business magnate has indicated that he believes Twitter should serve as a hub for free speech.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said, according to Twitter’s press release about the deal.
Twitter announced on Monday that the company “has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk, for $54.20 per share in cash in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion. Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.”
My own answer to this question is probably not. The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter.
— Jeff Bezos (@Jeff Bezos)
Bezos, the founder and former CEO of Amazon, retweeted a post from New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe, who had noted that “Tesla’s second-biggest market in 2021 was China” and that “Chinese battery makers are major suppliers for Tesla’s EVs.”
“After 2009, when China banned Twitter, the government there had almost no leverage over the platform,” Forsythe wrote. “That may have just changed.”
In response to Bezos’s tweet that questioned whether China could potentially gain influence over Twitter, Jennifer Van Laar tweeted, “What’s interesting is you suddenly caring about the Chinese government.”
“Democracy Dies In Letting Billionaires Who Are Not Me Control Media Outlets,” Mark Hemingway tweeted in a reference to the Washington Post’s slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Bezos owns the Washington Post.
Some on the left have sounded the alarm about Musk’s plan to buy Twitter, including Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who declared that the “deal is dangerous for our democracy.”