Musk's partisan tweets call Twitter neutrality into question

Musk's partisan tweets call Twitter neutrality into question


Elon Musk used his Twitter megaphone to appeal to “independent-minded voters” on Monday, urging them to vote Republican in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections and stepping into the country's political debate that tech company executives have largely tried to stay out of — so their platforms wouldn’t be seen as favoring one side over the other.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion, has expressed political views in the past, on and off the platform. But a direct endorsement of one party over another now that he owns it raises questions about Twitter’s ability to remain neutral under the rule of the world's richest man.

“Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic,” Musk tweeted.

It's one thing for the CEO of Wendy's or Chick-fil-A to endorse a political party, said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, a professor at Syracuse University who studies social media and politics. It's a whole other thing, though, for the owner of one of the world's most high-profile information ecosystems to do so.

“These social media platforms are not just companies. It’s not just a business. It is also our digital public sphere. It’s our town square," Stromer-Galley said. “And it feels like the public sphere is increasingly privatized and owned by these companies — and when the heads of these companies put their finger on the scale — it feels like it’s potentially skewing our democracy in harmful ways."

Musk's comments come as he seeks to remake the company and amid widespread concern that recent mass layoffs at the social media platform could leave the company unable to deal with hate speech, misinformation that could impact voter safety and security and actors who seek to cast doubt on the...

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