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Jeff Bezos floats theory that China has 'leverage' over Twitter after Elon Musk buyout

·3 min read

After Twitter announced on Monday that it had accepted Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $44 billion deal to buy the company, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos publicly questioned whether China would gain “leverage” over the social media platform.

Twitter’s board unanimously agreed to accept Musk’s offer to take the company private.

"The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon's proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing. The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter's stockholders," Bret Taylor, the board’s chairman, stated on Monday.

Bezos, the second richest man in the world behind Musk, responded to the announcement with a tweet late Monday raising concerns about the implications the decision had on China’s potential influence over Twitter.

He then followed up with subsequent tweets offering his own take on the question he posed a few hours later:

“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.”

“But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.”

Musk’s business interests in China have previously raised concerns for Washington lawmakers who believe that Beijing could access classified information through SpaceX’s foreign suppliers.

In January, Tesla faced backlash for opening a showroom in Xinjiang, a region where the government has been accused of committing human rights violations against Uyghur and other minority populations. Many charged that Musk was profiting at their expense, including Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance of American Manufacturing, who described Tesla as “despicable” and “complicit” in “cultural genocide.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin dismissed speculations on Tuesday when asked by a reporter during a press conference if China would attempt to use Tesla’s business in the country as leverage to influence content and censorship on Twitter.

“I can tell you are very good at speculating, but without any basis,” Wenbin responded.

Musk, who describes himself as a “free-speech absolutist,” has been vocal about his opposition to Twitter’s content moderation. By taking over Twitter, Musk expressed hope in opening a larger space for free expression on Twitter.

"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 in a statement. "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."

Featured Image via TED / Personal Finance Insider

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