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Explained: The War of Words Between Billionaire Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk Over Twitter Deal
Twitter banter between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk is not new. Musk had called Bezos'copycat'after the latter announced his plans to launch a new satellite-based broadband service on Twitter.
New Delhi: Elon Musk — the co-founder of OpenAI and the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has been hogging all the limelight ever since he reached an agreement to buy Twitter for roughly $44 billion. After cementing the deal, Musk, the world’s wealthiest person, assured a more lenient touch to policing content on the micro-blogging platform where he promotes his interests, attacks critics, and opines on social and economic issues to more than 86 million followers. The Tesla CEO, who is outspoken had said he wanted to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans. He had also claimed that the social media site is not living up to its potential as a platform for ‘free speech’. “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 tweet, which triggered a debate in the United States around freedom of speech and the role of social media platforms in regulating the flow of information.
Bezos vs Musk
The latest to join the debate is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He took the first test of Elon Musk’s commitment to allow free speech on the platform, posting that Tesla’s business interests in China could give the government leverage over Twitter via its new owner. Responding to a New York Times reporter which claimed that after 2009, when China banned Twitter, the government there had almost no leverage over the platform, Bezos asked, “Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” The Amazon founder further said that his own answer to “this question is probably not”.
But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) April 26, 2022
He added, “The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter.” Taking a potshot at Tesla CEO further, Bezos further stated that Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.
For the unversed, Tesla has a factory in Shanghai and relies heavily on Chinese firms for the materials that go into its electric vehicle batteries.
‘By Free Speech, I Simply Mean…’
Taking to Twitter, the billionaire tech entrepreneur explained what he meant by ‘free speech’. He also hit back at his critics in a cryptic tweet saying, “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.”
He stated that free speech must match the law and that he is against censorship that goes far beyond the law.
By “free speech”, I simply mean that which matches the law.
I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.
If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.
Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Twitter Banter Between Bezos, Musk Not New
This is not the first time the duo engaged in a Twitter exchange. Musk, who is worth $282 billion and over $100 billion richer than Bezos, has frequently criticised the latter on the micro-blogging site Twitter. From calling him ‘Copycat’ after Bezos announced plans to launch a new satellite-based broadband service to trolling him on the micro-blogging platform, Musk is facing fierce competition in the affordable satellite-based internet market from Amazon.
Earlier this month, Amazon announced the biggest rocket deal in the commercial space industry’s history, signing a pact with three rocket companies for up to 83 launches under its Project Kuiper internet satellites. The contracts total up to 83 launches over a five-year period, providing capacity for Amazon to deploy the majority of its 3,236-satellite constellation.
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