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Elon Musk’s past tweets reveal how he can run Twitter

Three days before Elon Musk agreed to buy Twitter, the world’s richest man Bill Gates tweeted a photo and used a brutal sexual term to mock his belly.

Musk’s past tweets, which are hilarious, aggressive and often childish, show how he used social media to create a billionaire who is not afraid to tarnish his public image. They may also reveal evidence on how Musk governs the platform he wants to own.

“Look at the feed: it’s everywhere. It is unstable. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, ”said Jennifer Grigill, a professor at Syracuse University who studies social media and recently assigned musk tweets to their students as reading material. “It portrays him as a kind of rebel leader who can control Public Square to defend it. That is the myth he has built.

Musk joined Twitter in 2010 and now has over 85 million followers – the seventh highest on any account and the highest for any business leader. Before agreeing on Monday to pay $ 44 billion (approximately Rs 3,37,244 crore) for Twitter, he said he was thinking about buying the site, which he hopes will become a haven that allows all speech.

“I hope even my worst critics will be on Twitter, because freedom of speech is the same,” Musk wrote in a tweet.

As CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk uses his Twitter account to advertise and promote his business. He thinks about technology and trade, but posted jokes about women’s breasts and once compared the Prime Minister of Canada to Hitler. When he tweeted in March 2020 that “the coronavirus pandemic is dumb”, he regularly monitors global events.

He also used the account to repel critics, such as calling a diver “Pedo” working to rescue boys trapped in a cave in Thailand, abbreviated to Pedophile. Diver has previously criticized the proposal to use soap to protect the musk. Musk, who won the defamation suit filed by the diver, later said he did not understand “pedo” as “pedophile”.

A few years ago, after software engineer Cher Scarlett criticized Musk’s handling of the cave incident, the tech billionaire backed down and she was soon harassed by dozens of Musk online fans. He later deleted the posts, but Scarlett had to lock her account because she was receiving so many malicious messages.

“It’s ironic that a person who claims to want to buy Twitter to protect freedom has very thin skin,” she said. “He’s a very intelligent man, and when he responds to people who criticize him, he knows what he’s doing.

Nineteen-year-old Jack Sweeney caught Musk’s attention when he created an automated Twitter account that tracked Musk’s jet movements. Musk responded by offering Sweeney $ 5,000 to open an account. When Sweeney refused, Musk blocked him on Twitter.

Sweeney said he fears that if Musk’s takeover is approved, he will be removed from the site altogether. But he said he liked Musk’s free speech authoritarianism and hoped he would see it.

“He’s more open to it and I think it’s a good thing,” Sweeney said.

Musk’s use of Twitter has caused problems for his own companies as well. In an August 2018 tweet, for example, Musk insisted he had the funds to pay Tesla $ 420 (approximately Rs. 32,180) a share, although the court ruled that was not true. That led to an SEC investigation that Musk was still fighting.

Recently, Musk appeared to have violated SEC regulations, requiring him to disclose that he acquired a 5 percent stake in Twitter; Instead he waited until more than 9 percent arrived. Experts say these issues are unlikely to have an impact on his Twitter acquisition.

Last year, another federal agency, the National Labor Relations Board, ordered Musk to delete a tweet by officials saying it had illegally threatened to cut stock options for Tesla employees who had joined the United Auto Workers’ Union.

Grigill said the tweets helped establish Musk’s reputation as an outsider and a worker’s billionaire. But that does not mean he is ready to run a social media platform with over 200 million users, the professor added.

“Maybe he wants to shoot it,” Grigil said. “I do not know. But I know this shows that no one should have such power.

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