Elon Musk’s global free speech plan is hardly ambitious (2023)

Hello and welcome to Protocol Policy! Today we dig further into Elon Musk’s plan — or lack thereof — to address free speech issues on Twitter around the world. TikTok is being investigated for CSAM. And New York will soon require crypto companies to pay for their own regulatory supervision.

Around the world in 280 characters

In a letter to Twitter chair Bret Taylor, Elon Musk said he invested in Twitter because he believes “in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe.” Musk went on to claim that Twitter could not “serve this societal imperative in its current form,” which motivated his offer to take Twitter private with a $43 billion cash offer.

Let’s talk about the “free speech around the globe” part of that. Because while promoting free speech around the world is a noble cause, taking Twitter private won’t address the fundamental issues.

Social media companies — even private ones — must stay in the good graces of governments to operate. Time and again, governments threaten to shut down social media platforms if they don’t moderate content to their liking. This is an inconvenient truth in the tech world; it’s what Big Tech policy teams mean when they say they’re “just following local law.”

  • Meta, for instance, outlined this policy in its most recent transparency report: “When something on Facebook or Instagram is reported to us as violating local law, but doesn't go against our Community Standards, we may restrict the content's availability in the country where it is alleged to be illegal.”
  • Similarly, Twitter says its goal “is to respect user expression, while also taking into consideration applicable local laws.”

This plays out all around the world, often with little media coverage in the U.S. And to be clear, the U.S. has its own issues with applying “free speech,” but we want to focus on the “around the globe” part today.

  • India’s government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully pressured Twitter to block thousands of accounts that supported the farmer protest in Delhi, according to The Intercept. The government reportedly threatened employees at Twitter with imprisonment for not complying with the requests.
  • In Nigeria, human rights groups have called for greater transparency into the government’s agreement to reestablish domestic Twitter operations after a 222-day ban. Nigeria blocked Twitter from domestic operations after the company deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet that many interpreted as a call for violence against the Igbo ethnic group. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project in Nigeria — a MacArthur Foundation-funded group — has insinuated that Twitter’s reinstatement could come with terms that infringe on freedom of expression.
  • And in Turkey, Twitter has received tens of thousands of legal requests for censorship. Twitter complied with 42% of these demands in the first half of 2021. It also withheld around 2,600 accounts, meaning people in Turkey couldn’t see the content posted by those users. President Tayyip Erdogan also has a long track record of imprisoning journalists.

Musk doesn’t seem to have the appetite to address these types of infringements on free speech. In a TED talk yesterday, Musk said Twitter should follow the laws of the countries in which it operates. (That has its merits — after all, Silicon Valley dictating speech principles to the rest of the world isn’t exactly “democratic” either.) Musk said he takes issue with Twitter “going beyond that, and having it be unclear who’s making what changes to who and to where, having tweets sort of mysteriously be promoted and demoted with no insight into what’s going on, having a black box algorithm on some things and not for other things.”

(Video) How Elon Musk Aims To ‘Restore Free Speech’ Via Twitter Purchase

There’s one way of reading Musk’s statements that makes them consistent: Twitter could simply leave countries that demand censorship. That’s extremely unlikely, though a private company would have more leeway to do so. Then again, it also appears increasingly unlikely that Musk will succeed at buying Twitter in the first place. His surprise proposal at least got us all talking about free speech and what Twitter can do to increase transparency. Maybe Musk will pull a “see, that’s all I wanted in the first place” when it all blows over.

— Hirsh Chitkara (email | twitter)

In Washington

The Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation into TikTok for allegedly hosting CSAM, according to a report from the Financial Times. The report suggests TikTok allowed illegal content to enter the public feed in part because its content moderators were too overwhelmed with the volume of material to keep up.

Two House Democrats requested extensive records from facial recognition program ID.me, which is used by the IRS and others. In the letter, Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Jim Clyburn said they had “serious concerns about the efficacy, privacy, and security of ID.me’s technology ... being used to verify the identities of millions of Americans seeking to access essential government services.”

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine is hoping a superior court will reconsider its decision to dismiss his antitrust case against Amazon.

A government advisory group warned that hackers have the ability to target fossil fuel infrastructure. The Department of Energy, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI warned that certain bad actors seem to have “capability to gain full system access to multiple” types of industrial control devices.

In the states

New York will soon require crypto companies to pay for their own regulatory supervision. Banks and insurance companies are already required to do so in the state. However, some leaders in the crypto space have criticized the move as unnecessarily burdening startups, which could reduce innovation in the sector.

Amazon will add a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge on top of current fulfillment fees, starting April 28. Earlier this week, Fed governor Lael Brainard said “getting inflation down is going to be our most important task.”

Yelp, Citigroup, Apple, Match Group and Bumble are all expanding employee benefits for abortion access. In some cases the companies will pay for employees in states with restricted abortion access to travel elsewhere. Yelp’s Chief Diversity Officer Miriam Warren told the Wall Street Journal: “When we’re talking about women’s advancement in their careers, trying to diversify boardrooms to see more women in them, and you look at these restrictions, they are absolutely intertwined in a way that I think is very damaging.”

(Video) Elon Musk's promises of free speech on Twitter could backfire


Elon Musk’s global free speech plan is hardly ambitious (1)

Changes born out of a crisis have upended every single workplace in the last two years. The old rulebook has been torn up, and new rules were written about how to communicate with and keep employees happy. Investing in effective communications technology has become core to that new world of work.

Learn more

On Protocol

Salesforce Chief Impact Officer Suzanne DiBianca explained how the company plans to reduce absolute emissions over the next decade, in a Q&A with Protocol.

Ethereum developers are testing a new mechanism for verifying blockchain transactions. The new system could arrive as soon as the fall. It has the potential to address some of the environmental concerns facing crypto, as the network verification process would use dramatically less energy.

If you’re still wondering about the whole Elon Musk-Twitter situation, check out this explainer that promises to answer almost all of your questions.

(Video) Elon Musk's "Free Speech" Plan for Twitter, Trump Fails to Comply with Subpoena and Gets Fined

Around the world

The Treasury Department claims The Lazarus Group, a North Korea-based hacker group, is behind the $622 million Axie Infinity hack last month. The department traced the funds to a wallet controlled by the group, and blockchain analysis firm Elliptic claims the group managed to successfully launder 18% of the stolen funds.

The Shanghai COVID lockdowns are likely to impact supply chains for devices from Apple, Dell and Lenovo, analysts told Reuters. Apple suppliers including Pegatron Corp and Quanta Computer shut down plants as they contend with China’s zero-COVID policies.

Tencent said it would update its gaming apps to block any content not approved by the government. China only recently began granting video game licenses after a nine-month suspension. President Xi has scrutinized video game addiction among China’s youth and prioritized programs that limit the time spent playing games and monitor content.

In data

60%: That’s how much global sales of AI chips grew between 2020 and 2021, when the market reached $35.9 billion. Chip startups have sprung up to address the growing demand for raw computational power.

(Video) Does Elon Musk Really Want Freedom Of Speech? | Zerlina.

The people’s search engine

A hot take that’s been circulating recently: Reddit is a better search engine than Google. One of the most viral blog posts on this topic noticed, “the only people who don’t know that are the team at Reddit, who can’t be bothered to build a decent search interface.” Well, that may soon be changing: Reddit announced a bunch of new features on Thursday that will make its forums more easily searchable directly within the platform. The company also said it has made the results page easier to skim.


Elon Musk’s global free speech plan is hardly ambitious (2)

Three in four frontline workers believe good technology that keeps them in touch with their higher-ups is a must-have for any good business. And in turn, managers are recognizing the need for change. 94% feel they have to prioritize upgrading and changing their frontline technology to stay up to speed with the rapidly changing workplace.

Learn more

Thanks for reading, see you Monday.

(Video) ENGLISH SPEECH | ELON MUSK: Future, A.I. and Mars (English Subtitles)


What is free speech Elon Musk? ›

If people want less free speech, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect”. He has also claimed that “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.”

What are Musk's intentions for Twitter? ›

Shortly after agreeing to buy the business this year, Musk had indicated he wanted to quintuple Twitter's annual revenue to $26.4bn by 2028, according to the New York Times. Advertising accounts for 90% of Twitter's revenue and Musk has raised a number of suggestions to generate turnover by other means.

Why is Elon Musk buying Twitter? ›

Elon Musk claims that he is buying Twitter to "help humanity" as the billionaire set out his aims for taking over the social media platform. In a tweet, Mr Musk said he didn't buy the firm "to make more money.

How much did Elon Musk buy Twitter for? ›

WHY DID MUSK BUY TWITTER? One reason why Musk bought Twitter this week is because he had little choice. The world's richest man spent months trying to back out of the $44 billion purchase agreement he originally signed in April.

What is Elon Musk's main goal? ›

As the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, Elon leads all product design, engineering and global manufacturing of the company's electric vehicles, battery products and solar energy products. Since the company's inception in 2003, Tesla's mission has been to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.

What is Elon Musk's famous quote? ›

"Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster." "When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world." "I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems ... It's got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious."

What is Musk's problem with Twitter? ›

The new owner says he hates advertising. That's a problem, because it provides 90 percent of his social-media platform's revenue. Hours before Elon Musk closed his deal to buy Twitter, he published an open letter to advertisers.

What happens if Elon Musk buys Twitter? ›

What Elon Musk will likely do with Twitter if he buys it Musk says he'd loosen rules against spreading misinformation, allow former President Donald Trump back on Twitter, shake up the company's business model and find new revenue sources.

What Musk wants to change about Twitter? ›

Musk has also said he wants to make Twitter's algorithm open source and make it more transparent to users when, for example, a tweet has been emphasized or demoted in their feed.

Why did Elon fire Twitter employees? ›

They were told that they had been terminated for “violating company policy,” according to emails seen by The Times.

Why is Elon Musk so rich? ›

His wealth is based mainly on his shareholdings in the electric car firm Tesla, of which he is the CEO. Musk has dabbled in many projects during his career to date, from online payment systems, artificial intelligence and transportation above and below ground and into outer space.

What company did Elon Musk just buy? ›

Elon Musk has completed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, a source familiar with the deal told CNN Thursday, putting the world's richest man in charge of one of the world's most influential social media platforms.

Does Elon own PayPal? ›

Elon Musk cofounded the electronic payment firm PayPal, and in 2002 he founded SpaceX, a company that makes rockets and spacecraft. He was a major early funder of Tesla, which makes electric cars and batteries, and became its chief executive officer in 2008. He purchased the social media service Twitter in 2022.

Who gets the 44 billion for Twitter? ›

Elon Musk has completed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the company confirmed in a securities filing Friday, putting the world's richest man in charge of one of the world's most influential social media platforms.

Is Elon Musk still rich after buying Twitter? ›

Elon Musk's Net Worth Drops $9 Billion After Twitter Deal | Time.

What is Elon Musk's ambition? ›

SpaceX. Elon Musk wants humans to land on Mars. That pursuit begins with building rockets.

What is Elon Musk's key to success? ›

Elon's best advice for success focuses on investing in yourself and helping others in their successes. He emphasizes that people should do things that are useful to others and to contribute more than they consume.

What is Elon Musk famous question? ›

You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?

What is Elon Musk's leadership style? ›

When you think about the defined leadership styles, Elon Musk's style is best defined as transformational. He believes there's a better way to do everything, and he sets his sights on constant improvement. He has big ideas and wants to unite his team around his (sometimes outrageous) vision and objectives.

What can we learn from Elon Musk? ›

For better or worse, here are five things we've learned about leadership from Elon Musk.
  • Stay open to new ideas. As a child, Musk had a passion for science fiction books and movies. ...
  • Don't be afraid of failure. ...
  • Find a mentor. ...
  • Learn to say no. ...
  • Keep learning and stay curious.
27 Jul 2022

How many employees did Elon Musk fire from Twitter? ›

Just over a week after closing the deal, Mr. Musk eliminated nearly half of Twitter's work force, or about 3,700 jobs.

What was Musk's ultimatum? ›

Twitter continued to bleed engineers and other workers, after new owner Elon Musk gave them an ultimatum: Either pledge to "hardcore" work or resign with severance pay by 5 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. Many have opted for the latter.

How much does Elon Musk make a day? ›

This would mean he's paid for a 6.5-hour workday. This makes it easier to answer the question, how much does Elon Musk make an hour? Since his daily earnings for the first quarter of 2022 are an estimated $333.33 million per day, his hourly rate would be $51.30 million.

Is Elon Musk the richest man in the world? ›

1. Elon Musk. Image courtesy Getty Images/Saul Martinez.

When did Elon sell PayPal? ›

In 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock, of which Musk—the largest shareholder with 11.72% of shares—received $175.8 million. In 2017, more than one and a half decades later, Musk purchased the X.com domain from PayPal for its sentimental value.

What does Musk not like about Twitter? ›

In a letter posted to Twitter (TWTR), Musk said he doesn't want the platform to become a “free-for-all-hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences,” despite his stated promise to rethink on its content moderation policies and bolster “free speech.”

Does Musk have control over Twitter? ›

Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter after a protracted legal battle and months of uncertainty. The question now is what the billionaire Tesla CEO will actually do with the social media platform.

How many employees quit Twitter? ›

Fortune reported earlier that 1,000 to 1,200 Twitter employees had resigned. The Information earlier reported on some of Twitter's infrastructure issues.

Why do Twitter employees quit? ›

Hundreds of workers decided to leave the troubled social network, after Elon Musk demanded employees commit to a new “hard core” work environment.

How many employees are left in Twitter? ›

Twitter's headcount of full-time employees prior to Musk's ownership was about 7,500 people. That number is now down to 2,300 people, according to a person familiar with the company's operations, after a mass layoff and a mass resignation.

What is the Elon Musk salary? ›

Elon Musk, Tesla: $23.5 billion

Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Who is the wealthiest person in the world? ›

Who is the richest person in the world? Top 10 richest people in the world 2022, Elon Musk net worth
  1. Elon Musk. Elon Musk is the co-founder and CEO of Tesla and is currently the richest person in the world, he has a net worth of $191.4 billion. ...
  2. Bernard Arnault & family. ...
  3. Gautam Adani. ...
  4. Jeff Bezos.

What age did Elon Musk become a billionaire? ›

Musk was 41 in 2012 when he became a billionaire, Insider reported.

What is Elon Musk's biggest purchase? ›

The world's richest man closed his blockbuster purchase of the social media service, thrusting Twitter into a new era. As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month.

What 5 companies does Elon Musk own? ›

Musk runs Tesla and SpaceX alongside two smaller start-ups, Neuralink and The Boring Company. From building rockets and brain chips to digging tunnels, here's what all of Musk's companies do.

Where does Elon Musk get his money? ›

Elon Musk has made billions from various business ventures - from founding PayPal and SpaceX to becoming the CEO of Tesla. His net worth is also based on his shares in Tesla, as he owns around 24 per cent.

Did Elon Musk get money from his dad? ›

Elon Musk has revealed that his father Errol Musk had run out of money in the 90s and the Tesla CEO and his brother had agreed to help senior Musk out financially on one condition -- that he doesn't do "bad things".

Who currently owns Tesla? ›

Elon Musk

Who is the richest Twitter? ›

After much ado, Elon Musk is the official owner of Twitter. The Tesla chief, who first disclosed his 9.2 per cent Twitter shareholding in April, later going on to make a hostile bid for the social network, closed his $44-billion buyout just a day before a Delaware Chancery Court-ordered deadline of October 29.

Who gave Elon money for Twitter? ›

Major banks, including Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Mizuho, Morgan Stanley, MUFG, and Societe Generale have committed to giving Musk $13 billion for the acquisition.

Do Twitter shareholders get paid? ›

If you're a Twitter shareholder, you should expect to receive $54.20 per share in the next few weeks, and then a capital gains tax bill next April (assuming that you hold shares in a brokerage account).

Does Elon Musk make profit? ›

According to Musk, of his $180 million profit from PayPal, he invested $100 million into SpaceX, $70 million into Tesla and $10 million into SolarCity Corp. So literally, he reinvested all his fortune from the PayPal deal into his new business ventures.

Who is the richest man in the world 2022? ›

Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla SpaceX company, who is of American origin, comes first in the world's Richest man in the world today. If we talk about his total assets, then according to him he has 250 billion-dollar assets. In second place comes Bernard Arnault, the owner of LVMH company of French origin.

Was Elon born rich? ›

Elon Musk was born into a wealthy family in Pretoria, South Africa in 1971. His mother, Maye, is a Canadian dietitian and model, while his father, Errol, is an engineer. While Musk remains close to his mother, his relationship with his father is understood to be strained.

What is the answer to the Elon Musk question? ›

One possible correct answer is 'the North Pole', but Elon's follow up to the question is always, where else could it be? The short answer is 'near the South Pole'. Because there are infinite points on a circle, there are infinite points you could be if you satisfy certain conditions.

What advice does Elon Musk give? ›

Elon's best advice for success focuses on investing in yourself and helping others in their successes. He emphasizes that people should do things that are useful to others and to contribute more than they consume.

What does Tesla slogan mean? ›

Strangely enough, Tesla has no official slogan. The only other major car company that decided to go without a slogan is Volkswagen, which phased out “Das Auto” in 2016. Tesla's mission statement is to “Accelerate the advent of sustainable transport and electric technology.”

What is Elon Musk pledge? ›

Musk signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, committing to give a majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

Is Elon Musk a problem solver? ›

Elon Musk has been instrumental in building three revolutionary, multibillion-dollar companies in completely different fields. His ability to solve seemingly unsolvable problems is essential to his success and he attributes his problem-solving success to first-principles thinking.

What is Elon Musk's favorite question? ›

According to his biography, many of those who sat across from Musk would be asked his favorite brain teaser interview question: “You're standing on the surface of the earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started.

How do you answer a Tesla evidence of excellence? ›

You may be asked for a relatively brief account of your 'evidence of excellence'. Tesla wants problem solvers with a track record. Show that you fit the bill. It's worth applying to Tesla, even though there's so much competition, but it's not worth applying poorly.

What makes Elon Musk so successful? ›

He is motivated and sticks with the attitude. Elon is always on the move to accomplish his objectives. Elon Musk takes his failures and uses them to motivate him forward. Musk left a comfortable life after success with a computer game ZiP2, a tourism guide, and Paypal to venture into other risky businesses.

How does Elon Musk define success? ›

Failure is an inevitable part of life. Still, failure has a harmfully negative connotation. It seems as though failing at something means doing something wrong.

How is Elon Musk so focused? ›

Musk is careful to filter anything that is not deemed critical, focusing on only the most important items. In his own words at the USC Commencement Speech: “Focus on signal over noise. Don't waste time on stuff that doesn't actually make things better.”

What is Tesla strategy statement? ›

Tesla's vision is to “create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world's transition to electric vehicles,” while its mission is “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass-market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” Tesla used a transitional ...

What were Teslas last words? ›

Nikola Tesla's last message to his mother: "All these years that I had spent in the service of mankind brought me nothing but insults and humiliation."
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27 Jul 2021

Why is Tesla an inspiring company? ›

Tesla creates strong brand advocates because it is creating products that are contributing to a better future. It wants to solve the world's problems and won't be limited to doing so in just one industry. It will come as a surprise to few that Tesla views innovation as THE catalyst to what the company sees as success.

What is Elon Musk Plan B? ›

Also known as a “Poison Pill”, the Rights Plan gives existing shareholders the right to buy shares at the then-current exercise price, additional shares of common stock having a then-current market value of twice the exercise price of the right should Musk or anyone else buy shares on the open market consisting of 15% ...

What coin is Elon Musk talking about? ›

The billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO has spent years talking up the token. Musk's tweets with oblique references to dogecoin have often sent it to new record-high prices.

Did Elon Musk say we need to increase oil? ›

"One of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced is the transition to sustainable energy and to a sustainable economy. That will take some decades to complete." He also said "at this time, we actually need more oil and gas, not less," and would not "demonize" fossil fuels in comments reported by Bloomberg.


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