Apr 26, 2022 - Technology

Who is cheering, jeering Musk's Twitter deal


Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

Right-wing politicians were among those most excited by Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, while those expressing the most worry were groups representing women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

Why it matters: While it is far too early to fully understand how Elon Musk's ownership will end up changing Twitter, it's worth noting who is most excited and who most fearful of the shift.

Inside Twitter, vocal skeptics of the deal included people working on everything from the core technology to those responsible for building equitable AI systems. Notably, it's also top of mind for both those doing the hiring and the people Twitter is recruiting.

  • "If you're wondering what Twitter employees think, I can only speak for myself: It's a time of genuine discomfort & uncertainty," Twitter's Edward Perez wrote. "Most of us believe deeply that Twitter is much more than a tech platform; we have a deep responsibility to society. I hope our new owner gets that."
  • Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said he doesn't think any person or company should own Twitter, but praised the sale to Elon Musk as the best strategy for the company. "Taking it back from Wall Street is the correct first step."

Outside its walls, Musk's purchase won plaudits from Sen. Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn, while statements of concern came from the NAACP, GLAAD and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

  • Many focused on the pros and cons of Musk's promise to promote free speech above all, while others worried about the impact of any one man being in charge of such a vital voice in the internet.
  • Still others questioned how Musk's own business interests, including those in China, could impact Twitter policy. That group included Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who noted Musk's China business and quipped: "Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?"

What they're saying:

  • American Civil Liberties Union: "While Elon Musk is a card-carrying member and one of our most significant supporters, there's a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of any one individual."
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation: "Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter highlights the risks to human rights and personal safety when any single person has complete control over policies affecting almost 400 million users. And in this case, that person has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not understand the realities of platform policy at scale."
  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted that yesterda was "a great day to be conservative on Twitter" while Sen. Josh Hawley quoted comments from Musk, adding, "Imagine: a major social media company that actually believes in free speech."
  • GLAAD: "Twitter should hold to its principles and the industry standard of prohibiting speech that endangers people, spreads misinformation, and incites harassment and abuse," CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said.

Be smart: Some of the biggest changes may come not from policy dictates, but rather the employee turnover as those who disapprove of Musk's approach leave and others join.

Go deeper: Everything Elon Musk wants to change about Twitter

Go deeper