Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended free speech online and fielded questions from Twitter employees, according to a leaked video call.
“You can communicate with millions of people on Twitter. That’s just an incredibly important thing,” Musk told Twitter staff during a June 16 all-employee call. “I think it’s essential to have free speech and to be able to communicate freely.”
Investigative journalism outfit Project Veritas leaked Musk’s meeting with Twitter’s staff, adding more fuel to the political firestorm. “I think people should be allowed to say, you know, pretty outrageous things that are within the bounds of the law,” assuming that kind of speech “doesn't get amplified and doesn’t get, you know, a ton of reach.”
“The standard is much more than not offending people,” he added. “The standard is — should be — that [Twitter users] are very entertained and informed.”
Musk also spoke against the media: "How many times have the media gotten it right? I would say almost never," Musk said. "Not never, but almost never."
Twitter is great because people can communicate directly with one another and “not through a negative lens.”
When pressed on his politics, Musk said his political views were moderate. “Let's say the far left ten percent and far right 10 percent were equally upset on Twitter, then that will probably be a good outcome,” he said.
Musk also trumpeted the value of business transparency “in order for people to have trust in Twitter.” He advocated for an “open source” algorithm to help identify bias and added that the platform can be better at “informing people about serious issues.”
“I think an important goal for Twitter would be to try to include much of the country, as much of the world, as possible,” Musk said. And the company has more room to grow, he said. “I think the potential is there for Twitter to be accessible to an order of magnitude of more people.”
But Musk said free speech does not equal speech without consequences.
“There’s freedom of speech or freedom of reach,” he said. ”Freedom of speech is one thing. Anyone can just go into the middle of Times Square right now and say anything they want. They just walk into the middle of Times Square and deny the Holocaust. Okay? You can’t stop them. They will just do that. But that doesn’t mean you have to, that needs to be promoted to millions of people.”
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