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Musk's Criticism Of Twitter Employees Sparks A Response

Musk's Criticism Of Twitter Employees Sparks A Response
On Wednesday, Elon Musk's criticism of Twitter Inc provoked a storm of nasty tweets directed at the company's top lawyer, raising concerns about his compliance with a non-disparagement agreement and the tone that the social media platform's new owner will establish for its users.
Musk expressed his dissatisfaction with a move taken by Twitter in 2020 to limit the spread of a New York Post piece concerning US President Joe Biden's son, Hunter. The billionaire, who has about 87 million Twitter followers, termed the company's move to lock the Post's account "very inappropriate."
Musk, who agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion on Monday, was replying to a tweet by podcast host Saagar Enjeti regarding Vijaya Gadde, the executive in charge of Twitter's policy and legal teams.
Enjeti labelled Gadde as "Twitter's top censorship champion, memorably gaslighting the public on Joe Rogan's podcast and censoring the Hunter Biden laptop tale." Gadde was thereafter the target of a barrage of personal assaults on Twitter by users of the network.
The merger agreement between Twitter and Musk states that Musk may tweet about the deal while it is in the works "so long as such Tweets do not denigrate the Company or any of its Representatives."
There was no sign that Twitter, which agreed to the deal with Musk after thinking his offer was appealing, would seek to rescind the transaction due to Musk's recent criticism.
Musk and Twitter representatives did not immediately reply to calls for comment. Gadde was unable to be reached for comment.
Dick Costolo, a former Twitter CEO, slammed Musk's decision. "Bullying does not constitute leadership. What exactly is going on? You are making a senior executive at the company you just purchased the focus of harassment and threats "Costolo posted a tweet.
Musk then tweeted back at Costolo: "What are talking about? I'm just saying Twitter needs to be politically neutral."
Musk recently chimed in on a debate about Twitter's deputy general counsel, Jim Baker. Musk responded to social media figure Mike Chernovich's criticism of Baker in a tweet, saying, "Sounds very awful."
There was no comment from Baker on the issue.
Katie Harbath, a former public policy director at Meta Platform Inc's Facebook who now runs the consultancy Anchor Change, said Musk's criticism of Twitter's content moderation raises concerns that he may overrule suggestions from the team in charge of policy and procedure.
According to Harbath, a crucial question is whether Musk will "replace people inside of Twitter with people who agree with his beliefs."
Others were concerned that Musk would undermine Twitter's efforts to combat abuse, misogyny, and disinformation.
"Musk's pursuit of his normal daily activities on Twitter exacerbate the worst aspects of the site and undercut the good work that folks at Twitter have been doing," said Adam Conner, vice president for technology policy at the Center for American Progress.
While Musk's participation on Twitter is garnering increased attention as a result of his deal to acquire the company announced on Monday, the world's richest person is no stranger to controversy and criticism on the network.
Musk insulted Missy Cummings, a Duke University professor who was chosen as an advisor by the US car safety commission, in a tweet last October, which was followed by personal assaults on Cummings online. Cummings, a longtime critic of Tesla's driver assistance software, later cancelled her Twitter account.
Musk referred to a British diver as a "pedo man" in 2018 after he dismissed Musk's plan of deploying SpaceX's mini-submarine to rescue a boys' soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.
"If he proves incapable of tamping down the polarization, Twitter will slowly start to become less relevant because certain types of conversations will no longer be able to take place on it," said David A. Kirsch, an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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