Jeff Bezos on Monday questioned whether his fellow billionaire Elon Musk could be making Twitter vulnerable to pressure from China, as a result of Musk’s extensive business liabilities in the Asian nation.
‘Interesting question,’ mused Bezos, who in 2013 bought The Washington Post with a view to protecting free speech and supporting journalism.
‘Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?’
He commented atop a retweet from a New York Times journalist, noting that Musk’s Tesla was extremely exposed to China. China is Tesla’s second largest market, and their manufacturers supply battery parts for Musk’s company.
Twitter is banned in China by the country’s authoritarian communist government, but there are fears the CCP could try and exert influence to stop users from abroad criticizing its government.
Bezos spoke hours after Musk, 50, on Monday sealed a $44 billion deal to take over Twitter, and vowed that he wanted to preserve the platform as a bastion of free speech.
Several hours later, he appeared to moderate his barbed question, and heaped praise on Musk.
‘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,’ he tweeted.
‘But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.’
Jeff Bezos, 58, on Monday asked whether Musk was dangerously exposed to Chinese pressure, which would complicate his purchase of Twitter
Bezos and Musk are noted for their rivalry in space, with both men dedicating large chunks of their fortunes to exploration. Bezos dismisses Musk’s plan to colonize Mars using his SpaceX rockets as unrealistic, while Musk has been scathing about the orbiting space station Blue Origin founder Bezos proposes.
And it was not only Bezos questioning the takeover.
Jameela Jamil led the charge of celebrities announcing they would abandon Twitter after Musk’s purchase, declaring that she would no longer be tweeting.
Musk, who on Monday sealed a $44 billion deal for the company, tweeted: ‘I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means.’
But actress Jamil, 37, said she wasn’t having it.
‘Ah he got twitter,’ she said.
‘I would like this to be my what lies here as my last tweet. Just really *any* excuse to show pics of Barold,’ she added, attaching a photo of the poodle mix she shares with her boyfriend, musician James Blake.
‘I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny. Best of luck.’ Jamil has since been widely-mocked by people in her replies claiming that she’s far too much of an attention-seeker to stay off Twitter.
Actor Rob Reiner, star of 1970s CBS sitcom All In The Family, said he was troubled by the possible return to Twitter of Donald Trump under Musk’s leadership.
Jameela Jamil (left) on Monday announced that she was abandoning Twitter, while Joy-Ann Reid (right) was scathing about the move
The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil published what she called her ‘last tweet’ at 3.42pm
‘Now that Elon Musk is buying Twitter, the question for all of us is: Will he allow a Criminal who used this platform to lie and spread disinformation to try to overthrow the US Government to return and continue his Criminal activity?
‘And if he does, how do we combat it?’
Reiner appeared to be referring to Donald Trump, who was banned by Twitter in January 2021 after being accused of stoking the Capitol riot. Many progressive tweeters fear Musk’s purchase of the firm could spell the return of Trump.
Star Trek actor George Takei also voiced his fears over Musk.
But he said he was not quitting Twitter, because giving a greater platform to extremists meant that moderates like him were even more important.
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ the 85-year-old tweeted.
‘Should this place become more toxic, I pledge to strive even harder to lift up reason, science, compassion and the rule of law. The struggle against fascism, misinformation, and hate requires tough fighters.
Actor Rob Reiner said he was worried about the possibility of Donald Trump returning to Twitter
‘I hope you stay in the fight, right beside me.’
He joked that Musk was setting himself up for a challenge.
‘The problems Elon Musk will face as the owner of a social media company will make him accelerate his Mars escape plans considerably,’ he added.
MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid was her usual cynical self while responding to Musk’s request for his detractors to stay and debate.
She declared: ‘Translation: if his worst critics leave, Twitter will be as worthless as Gab, Gettr (lol) and Truth Social.
‘He needs y’all to stay on here so his ‘free speech’ people can harass you for fun.
‘Because dude does not ALWAYS believe in free speech…’
George Takei, Star Wars actor, tweeted: ‘I’m not going anywhere. Should this place become more toxic, I pledge to strive even harder to lift up reason, science, compassion and the rule of law. The struggle against fascism, misinformation, and hate requires tough fighters’
She then linked to an Insider article from March 27, which detailed the stories of several critics and an employee who were retaliated against for criticizing Musk and his companies. Insider reported that a journalist who was critical of a Tesla launch event was personally phoned by Musk, and told their Tesla order had been cancelled.
It was unclear whether Reid was declaring that she too was abandoning Twitter, where she has 2.1 million followers.
She pinned a tweet to her profile with ‘a timely reminder’ that her fans can find her on TikTok, Instagram, Counter Social, Pop Viewers and the Community app.
‘Have a blessed day!’ she concluded.
Enraged Twitter users threatened to decamp for smaller platforms and encouraged employees to unionize after Tesla CEO Elon Musk bought the company for $44 billion on Monday
Podcast host Amy Siskind said she was debating leaving the site, thanks to the ‘absolutely awful’ Musk taking the reins.
‘I am sitting with my thoughts and watching, and haven’t decided if I am staying here,’ she tweeted.
‘I have a huge philosophical issue knowing whatever content I provide here goes directly towards enriching one man, who I think is absolutely awful. Watching. His platform is hemorrhaging users.
‘People need to understand that this is no longer a public company. Every post you make here is free content to enrich one man, Elon Musk. He is completely in control and answers to no one. I don’t view him as a mentally stable person.’
Siskind was mocked for saying she’d remain on Facebook, whose owner Mark Zuckerberg has been blasted for the site’s propensity to start fights and influence elctions.
Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, said he was troubled by the significance of the deal.
‘Musk and his apologists say if consumers don’t like what he does with Twitter, they can go elsewhere,’ he noted.
‘But where else would consumers go to post short messages that can reach millions of people other than Twitter?
‘The ‘free market’ increasingly reflects the demands of big money.’
Others took a more combative approach.
Rapper Ice-T also found the situation amusing, tweeting: ‘It would kinda dope if Musk bought Twitter and just shut it off…. Lol’
Simu Liu, star of the 2021 Marvel film Shang-Chi, asked: ‘Was there nothing better to do with 44 billion dollars?’
And Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers asked: ‘Will we now get the edit tweet option?’
Other Twitter users encouraged employees at the social media company to unionize.
Within minutes, tweets decrying the full purchase – a move that seemed unlikely as recently as Saturday – came rolling in.
Some threatened to head to alternative sites like CounterSocial, which crashed as incensed Twitter users flocked to sign up for backup accounts.
Others said it was a perfect time for Twitter employees to engage in collective bargaining.
‘Today seems like a great day for Twitter employees to form a union… After all, the new owner did just spend $44 billion to buy it,’ one user said.
People for Bernie, a group that supports Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, wrote: ‘Twitter employees, may we introduce you to @CODE_CWA,’ referring to an initiative of the Communication Workers of America union.
The union counts the New York Times, General Electric and Verizon among its major employers.
Inside Twitter, employees are reportedly dismayed at the realization that Musk is now their boss.
‘I feel like im going to throw up..I rly don’t wanna work for a company that is owned by Elon Musk,’ one employee told a New York Times reporter.
Some raised concerns about whether Musk, a staunch opponent of labor unions who is worth a reported $266 billion, would push the price of shares down as he seeks to take the company private, hitting employees who are partly paid in stock especially hard.
Musk tweeted the news on Monday, promising to ‘increase trust’ and ‘defeat the spam bots’
Several users called for Twitter employees to unionize after the news was announced
A New York Times reporter says that an unidentified Twitter employee told him they feel like ‘throwing up’ at the thought of working for Musk
The unidentified Twitter employee added: ‘I don’t rly know what I’m supposed to do…oh my god, my phone’s been blowing up…We have a meeting about it at 5pm…the CEO is going to address everyone about it
‘I hate him, why does he even want this?
‘I feel like he’s this petulant little boy and that he’s doing this to troll…he doesn’t know anything about our policies and what we do…his statement about our algo was f****** insane…
‘Were just gonna let everyone run amok?…nobody knows.’
The Tesla magnate agreed to pay shareholders $54.20 in cash for each share of common stock before the bombshell deal was struck.
The move shifts control of the social media platform populated by millions of users and global leaders to the world’s richest person.
Musk vowed to protect free speech on Twitter, ‘defeat the spam bots’ and ‘authenticate all humans’ as he welcomed the acquisition.
He also revealed he planned to ‘enhance the product with new features’ and ‘make the algorithms open source to increase trust’.
Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal (left) on Monday spoke to employees to try and reassure them. Co-founder Jack Dorsey (right) holds a board seat, but is expected to give it up in May
Earlier, the 50-year-old tycoon called for his ‘worst critics’ to remain on the platform because ‘that is what free speech means.’
Still, employees are worried about the SpaceX founder’s plans for the company.
Musk is known for using Twitter to post inflammatory messages, much like former President Donald Trump.
Parag Agrawal, the CEO, said on Monday that it was up to Musk to decide whether to readmit Trump.
Trump on Monday said he would not be rejoining the site if Musk allowed him to – instead saying he would continue to use his own TRUTH Social.
Employees said they were worried Musk would undo the work the company has put into content moderation meant to prevent abuse, according to the New York Times.
Staff were also concerned about their stock compensation, and whether share prices would go down as he seeks to take the company private.
Many tech employees are paid a salary along with stock options that ‘vest’ at a certain time period.
In a worker-run survey of 200 Twitter employees, 44 percent said they were neutral on Musk; 27 percent said they loved him; and 27 percent said they hated him.
Some some liberal users from seeking a way out.
The most common options include CounterSocial, a website that touts its commitment to, ‘No Trolls. No Abuse. No Ads. No Fake News. No Foreign Influence Ops.’
Several users promised to leave for alternative social media platforms like #CounterSocial, which crashed as Twitter users flocked to the fledgling app to create backup accounts
Twitter stocks rocketed four per cent as the market opened in New York on Monday morning
The website was flooded with so many people trying to create accounts that it temporarily crashed, according to screenshots shared on social media.
Moreover, some users are calling for Twitter workers to unionize in order to have a stronger say on the platform’s future.
‘Twitter workers have all the leverage right now don’t squander it being scared. The message you send by Unionizing against a ceo who has a history of union bashing,’ one person wrote.
Musk has previously dared United Autoworkers to come unionize Tesla, arguing that they wouldn’t be successful because employees are already treated well.
‘Our real challenge is Bay Area has negative unemployment, so if we don’t treat and compensate our (awesome) people well, they have many other offers and will just leave!’ he tweeted in March.
‘I’d like hereby to invite UAW to hold a union vote at their convenience. Tesla will do nothing to stop them.’
Last year, the National Labor Relations Board directed Tesla to hire back a union organizer it had fired. The federal agency also directed Musk to delete a 2018 tweet reading: ‘Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union.
‘Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?’