White House: Elon Musk Purchase of Twitter Will Allow It to 'Spread Misinformation'
'Our concerns are not new'
The White House has warned that social media platform Twitter will have free reign of spreading misinformation following Tesla CEO Elon Musk's purchase of the company.
“No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power large social media platforms have over our everyday lives,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during the daily briefing.
Psaki said she was not able to offer a specific comment on the purchase itself but spoke broadly about the president’s views on social media.
“Our concerns are not new,” she said.
“We’ve long talked about, and the president has long talked about his concerns about the power of social media platforms, including Twitter and others to spread misinformation, disinformation."
Twitter announced Monday afternoon its agreement with Musk to sell him the company for $54.29 per share.
“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 statement announcing the agreement.
Biden has long loathed Twitter, particularly President Donald Trump’s use of the platform to savage his political enemies.
Psaki said social media platforms needed to take their role in the public square seriously, but said the White House would reserve comment on Musk’s future plans for the platform.
“At this point we don’t have any sense of what the policies will look like,” she said.
Psaki confirmed the White House would likely continue to engage with Twitter on issues of misinformation, despite the projected change in ownership.
“I think we engage regularly with all social media platforms,” she said.
“There are also reforms that we think Congress could take.”
She said legislative reforms supported by the president included requiring more transparency, anti-trust reforms, and reform of Section 230.
Musk said during a TED Talk earlier this month that Twitter needed to make its algorithm open sourced and that any action the company takes against tweets needs to be thoroughly explained to the public to stop “behind the scenes manipulation” on the platform by the company.
According to Musk, Twitter’s secret algorithms, which he said promote some tweets while not promoting others, can be “quite dangerous.”
Musk said when it comes to judging whether tweets should be taken down due to the nature of the content in the tweet, the policy should be: if in doubt, let the tweet exist.
Musk has also floated the idea of having an edit button added for users.
Musk sparked some controversy on Tuesday with a pair of tweets, one offering a “good” metric for determining if a social media company’s policies were effective and another asking who is behind “shadowy” censorship and de-platforming on the internet.