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With Twitter deal clock ticking, Elon Musk's outreach to Kanye West after anti-Semitic tweets offers new sign of climate change on social media

With Twitter deal clock ticking, Elon Musk’s outreach to Kanye West after anti-Semitic tweets offers new sign of climate change on social media

Elon Musk, who is poised to take control of Twitter, raised a new round of questions about how the social media climate could change with his revelation that he contacted Kanye West after the rapper’s anti-Semitic tweets.

“I spoke with you today and raised my concerns about your recent tweet, which I believe was taken seriously,” Musk wrote in a tweet Monday night.

The Tesla founder, who is negotiating the final details of his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, has already sent strong signals about his concerns about how speech is controlled on the platform. Former President Donald Trump and others who have been banned by the social media platform are widely expected to be welcomed back. The West affair takes Musk’s position to a different level, given the backlash against West in recent days.

Possible changes to Twitter’s moderation policies were front and center after Musk closed a deal to buy the platform in April. But he walked away in July, Twitter sued, and attention turned to legal drama, including a whistleblower, as the two sides argued over text messages, Slack messages, and general discovery.

Musk, who was awaiting a plea and possibly facing difficulties in a trial scheduled for October 17, renewed his $44 billion offer last week pending funding. A Delaware chancery court judge stayed the trial and gave him until Oct. 28 to close the deal, refocusing attention on the real-life impact of a Musk-owned Twitter just as the West controversy arose.

Twitter blocked the rapper’s account for a violation of the social media platform’s policies after he tweeted on Saturday that he was going to “death with 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

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“I’m a little sleepy tonight, but when I wake up I’m going to die with 3 About the JEWISH PEOPLE,” said West, also known as Ye. “The funny thing is that I can’t really be anti-Semitic because black people are Jewish too. You guys have played me and tried to fool anyone who opposes your agenda.”

The Twitter ban followed restrictions on West’s Instagram account by Mark Zuckerberg-owned Meta after West shared a screenshot from a text exchange with Sean “Diddy” Combs. He accused Combs of being controlled by the Jewish people and said that he would use Combs as an “example to show the Jewish people that he told him to call me that no one can threaten me or influence me.”

West, who hadn’t used Twitter for years, took to the platform to complain. Musk responded, tweeting: “Welcome back to Twitter my friend!” Yesterday, he followed up with the tweet saying that he had expressed his concern to West.

In a statement last week when the Musk-Twitter merger was back in the spotlight, the women’s group UltraViolet warned: “Get ready. Elon Musk is about to open Pandora’s box and flood the internet once again with hate, misogyny, racism, and conspiracy theories.”

“If this deal goes through, Twitter will become an even more dangerous place for women, threats of online violence against Black and women of color will skyrocket, and anti-trans content will take over Twitter feeds. the users. Donald Trump will have a new platform and will use his account to spread conspiracy theories and promote political violence,” he said.

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Nonprofit Media Matters called the sale of Twitter to Musk “the end of the company as we know it and the beginning of a more toxic platform with incredible potential for real-world harm.”

The debate over speech on social media has been raging for years with tech company bosses called to Capitol Hill numerous times for questioning. Federal law, specifically Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, protects platforms from legal liability for much of what appears on their sites and gives them ample leeway to control content. Both sides of the aisle have called for Section 230 reform, often (but not always) for different reasons, with the right decrying censorship and the left seeking tighter controls on content.

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