One of the most prominent left-wing organizations wants Twitter to only sell to Elon Musk if former President Donald Trump and others they deem “extremists” are never re-platformed and the social media site’s community standards stay in place.
Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, described the sale of Twitter to Mr. Musk as a “victory for disinformation and the people who peddle it.” He went on to say that “Musk could unleash a wave of toxicity and harassment and undo Twitter’s efforts to increase quality engagement and make its platform safer for users.”
“Twitter’s Board of Directors must recognize that if Musk is successful, Donald Trump, who had been banned from the platform for repeated violations of terms of service and incitement to violence, will almost certainly be replatformed in weeks,” Mr. Carusone said in a statement released Monday. “Other extremists and white supremacists will also likely have their accounts restored too.”
Mr. Carusone suggests that “any negotiations to sell Twitter to Musk must include clear enforceable mechanisms to uphold and maintain existing community standards, including the removal of those who violate those standards.”
Twitter banned Mr. Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol for inciting his supporters who entered the building that day.
Twitter banned or suspended the accounts of Republican members of Congress, conservative activists, news publications and pundits, including Babylon Bee, Project Veritas’s James O’Keefe, and Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Jim Banks of Indiana and Barry Moore of Alabama.
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Mr. Carusone references the Dow Jones sale of the Wall Street Journal to News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, when Dow Jones put in certain terms as a condition of sale to hinder Mr. Murdoch from “radically” changing the paper into “a reflection of Murdoch’s worst impulses.”
“A similar expectation on Twitter’s board is not just a good idea, but absolutely essential in this case,” Mr Carusone said suggesting that if Twitter lifts its bans on “the likes of Donald Trump and Alex Jones — as well as reversing course in dealing with disinformation and extremists,” other major social media platforms will likely follow course.
“This potential deal is about much more than the future of Twitter. A sale to Elon Musk without any conditions will pollute the entire information ecosystem by opening the floodgate of hate and lies. Twitter’s board needs to take this into account now before the deal is done.”
Mr. Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, previously acquired a 9.2% stake in the company, and wanted to join the company’s board, but unexpectedly changed his mind and decided to offer a bid of over $40 billion to buy the company instead late last week.
“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Mr. Musk said in the regulatory filing. “However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.”
Ryan Lovelace contributed to this report.