Real Time host Bill Maher has backed Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s latest move to join Twitter’s board, saying the richest man on this planet could put an end to the “management” of the social media platform on freedom of expression.
On Friday, answering questions from viewers, Maher delivered a submission that asked him and his visitors, New York Times author David Leonhardt and writer Nancy MacLean, what their thoughts were on Musk’s transformation into Twitter’s largest single shareholder when it bought 9.2 pc of the company on Monday.
“I’m for it,” Maher said.
When his visitors expressed their reservations, Maher explained that he believed Twitter was so entrenched in our lives and in our daily discourse that he could not ban users because that would be tantamount to suppressing free speech.
“We live in a special time when Twitter is now a public square,” Maher said. “If you’re denying someone the right to converse on Twitter, you’re basically saying you don’t have the right to free speech.”
“I think that’s what Elon Musk wants to fix on Twitter.”
Scroll down for video
Realtime host Bill Maher helps Elon Musk’s rise to Twitter board, says Tesla CEO is what wanted to fix social media’s ‘handling’ of free speech
Musk, the richest man on this planet and outstanding Twitter critic, sent shockwaves when he bought 9.2% of the company’s shares on Monday, making him the largest shareholder.
Maher (left) defined Twitter as the newest “public square”. and that denying someone the ability to converse on the platform is tantamount to denying them their freedom of expression
Musk has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the way Twitter bans accounts, saying the company doesn’t “respect ideas about free speech” and “undermines democracy.”
Many conservatives have expressed hope that Musk will reactivate Donald Trump’s Twitter account after the former president was completely kicked off the platform in January 2021 after being accused of stoking the Capitol riot.
Leonhardt admitted that the potential return of Trump’s account was the very first thing he thought of when he heard about Musk joining Twitter’s board.
“Are we going to have to relearn Donald Trump’s tweets, fast?” Leonhardt asked.
“Which is tricky, because as soon as they took Trump off Twitter, things got worse,” Maher joked. “But it’s dangerous without spending a dime on speech.
“We don’t live in 1980 anymore. It’s a special world we reside in where social media controls [free speech]’, added Maher.
“So social media is a form of…it resides in a realm that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not a private enterprise either…That’s why it’s so difficult.”
Maher also expressed concerns that when Twitter bans users from its platform, they go to other social media sites where they congregate with ideas that ‘Big Tech and Big Government’ are ‘colligating’. against them.
Leonhardt argued that while free speech is essential, it must be balanced with the risks attributable to lies, noting in particular Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
He mentioned that Maher’s description of what Twitter had become was what was given to media outlets many years ago.
“But they didn’t spread lies about voter fraud,” Leonhardt said. “You can’t go back to Walter Cronkite and listen like, ‘Actually, Barry Goldwater won the election,’ can you? This is now what you get on Twitter from Donald Trump.
Maher, however, said Twitter can ban people for a multitude of reasons, saying users were banned or suspended for discussing the possibility that the coronavirus arrived from a lab in Wuhan, China, when the social media company has begun cracking down on the misinformation pandemic.
“We don’t know where the coronavirus came from, but there’s no reason to assume it couldn’t have come out of a lab,” Maher said. “They have a lab in Wuhan that was discovering the coronavirus, and you couldn’t even focus on that.
“I mean, it’s outrageous.”
Musk’s criticism of Twitter bans has revived conservative hopes that former President Donald Trump’s account could be reactivated. Trump was banned a day after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after making false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen
Maher’s visitors, New York Times author David Leonhardt (properly speaking) and writer Nancy MacLean, voiced their concerns over Musk’s rise on Twitter, saying freedom of speech must be balanced with the risks attributable to the dissemination of false information.
MacLean also expressed concerns about Musk’s Twitter membership and noted that the transfer annoyed the Silicon Valley company’s employees to the point that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal insisted that Musk didn’t posed no risk to agency lore, saying he wouldn’t be put in charge of the main picks.
Musk agreed to sit down for a Q&A session with employees of the San Francisco-based agency after it bought out 9.2% of the company on April 4 for $3.7 billion, making him his main shareholder.
Many have spent the week complaining about Musk and accused him of being a “transphobe” on a 2020 tweet mocking pronouns, in addition to a bully.
Announcing the “ask me something,” or AMA, session in an email sent Thursday, Agrawal wrote, “We say Twitter is what’s going on and what people are talking about right now. Often we [at] Twitter is what’s happening and what people are talking about. This was definitely the case this week.
“Following our board announcement, many of you may have had different types of questions about Elon Musk, and I must welcome you to ask him those questions.”
It’s unclear when the session will take place, and whether it’s likely to be held in person at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters or nearly held.
These town halls are prevalent in Silicon Valley — but reserved for CEOs and other executives. It is extremely rare for a shareholder to be thrust into the spotlight, the Washington Post reported.
Musk joked about buying 9% of Twitter shares in this tweet sent on Thursday
Agency workers – who have been accused of exacerbating ongoing traditional wars internationally – reportedly spent the entire week in a frenzy over Musk’s purchase.
Writing on an indoor message board, one raged: “We know he hurt the staff, the trans neighborhood, women and others with much less energy on this planet.
“How are we going to reconcile this resolution with our values? Does innovation trump humanity?
Another wrote: “Quick question: if a worker tweeted a number of Elon’s tweets about the issues, they could be the topic.”
And a third ex-Tesla employee said he feared a repeat of what he claimed was a toxic work tradition encouraged by Musk at the electric car agency.
This employee said: “I’m extremely pissed off right now because I’ve seen what he can do first hand.”
Agrawal insisted that Musk poses no risk to the agency’s lore, saying he would not be responsible for major picks.
Musk has 80.9 million Twitter users and often uses positioning to talk with his followers.
He even discovered himself the subject of an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into his use of positioning.
In August 2018, he tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla public at $420 a share – a joke referring to hashish, also known as 4:20.
But Musk has been accused of meddling in the markets and has been told by the SEC that he will have to have his tweets vetted by lawyers before publishing them.