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Several staffers of the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post are anything but thrilled that fellow billionaire Elon Musk is aiming for a hostile takeover of Twitter.
Musk, who last week announced he bought over 9% stake of Twitter, Inc., shocked the world yet again on Thursday by making an offer to buy the entire company for $43 billion after declining a seat on Twitter’s board of directors.
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That set off an avalanche of responses from those on Bezos’ payroll.
“I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter,” Washington Post columnist Max Boot tweeted. “He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.”
In a column published later in the day responding to his own critics, Boot declared Musk as the “last person who should take over Twitter.”
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“The notion that content moderation is communism or fascism is typical of the inanities that pervade social media. If this were true, it would mean that the United States was under fascist rule when I was growing up in the 1980s. Back then, most people got their news from a daily newspaper or one of three major TV networks. All of them employed editors (a.k.a. content moderators) who would have never run the kind of wild-eyed claims that have become a mainstay on social media,” Boot wrote. “Anyone who thinks the problem with social media is too much content moderation, rather than too little, should not own one of the most powerful platforms online.”
Fellow columnist Eugene Robinson, on the other hand, insisted Musk is “welcome” to take over Twitter, only to root for a cultural exodus from the platform, writing, “It just might be the push the rest of us need to close the app and get back to our real lives.”
“I don’t miss Trump on Twitter. I don’t miss the covid-19 misinformation, the ‘big lie’ about the election, the pro-Russian propaganda. If Musk were to bring all of that back, I’d be happy to leave,” Robinson told readers. “And what to do with all the hours I now waste on Twitter? Maybe take walks and listen to actual tweets. From actual birds.”
Several journalists from Amazon’s sister company bashed the Tesla CEO.
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“If my Twitter experience primarily consisted of bros praising me, I too might find it baffling that so many people found the platform difficult,” Washington Post correspondent Philip Bump swiped Musk.
“Now that Musk is threatening to take over Twitter, don’t forget that he relied on government to get his dreams off the ground but then sank into the worst sort of anti-government demagoguery when Dems wanted to tax billionaires and help millions of others,” Post columnist Greg Sargent tweeted.
“What are the actual chances that Elon ends up owning Twitter and this doesn’t all just end up a chaotic stunt, I’m genuinely curious how viable his offer is,” wondered the paper’s “internet culture” journalist Taylor Lorenz.
Other Post staffers mused about “how fun the last day on Twitter would be” with one sharing an image of a climactic dinner scene from the 2021 apocalyptic satire “Don’t Look Up.”
The Post has been importing anti-Musk opinion pieces published by Bloomberg News, founded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
One piece aggregated on Thursday from Bloomberg columnist Tim O’Brien claimed Musk “lacks the temperament” to run Twitter.
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“Lies, misinformation, disinformation and propaganda are virulent and wildly destructive. That stuff has to be monitored, because it can lead those who absorb it to make bad decisions,” O’Brien wrote. “Now comes Musk, one of Silicon Valley’s giants, ready to scoop up an influential social media platform. If anything, Twitter’s moderation has been too permissive, but Musk claims the opposite, and says the company has somehow inhibited his free speech. No one should buy that line — and Musk shouldn’t buy Twitter. His goal is not free expression, but control. And if he gets it, Twitter’s information problem will only grow worse.”
The Post previously shared another O’Brien piece from Bloomberg calling Musk’s investment in Twitter “could be bad news for free speech.”
The Washington Post’s animosity towards Musk has been overt ever since he expressed financial interest in Twitter.
An op-ed written last week by former Fortune magazine executive editor Adam Lashinsky suggested Musk’s end-game is to use Twitter to bolster bitcoin, something he also has a large stake in.
Post columnist Karen Attiah appeared to agree with Lashinsky when she shared the piece on Twitter, adding “Will Musk use Twitter to scratch his Bitcoin itch?”
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Catherine Rampell, another Post columnist, shared a PBS report with the headline “Lawsuit accuses Elon Musk of breaking law while nearly doubling Twitter stock,” shedding light on a filing in New York federal court drawing scrutiny over inadequately disclosing his growing shares of Twitter.
And without a hint of irony, the Washington Post published an op-ed last week that called for “regulation of social-media platforms to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication,” which Musk reacted by tweeting, “Lmaooo.”