Twitter CEO Elon Musk said it blew his mind to learn that the U.S. government had “full access” to read direct, private messages sent through the social network before he took over.
The previous Twitter management had ties to government agencies which demanded that certain content be flagged or banned, Musk said in an excerpt of an interview with Tucker Carlson that is scheduled to air Monday and Tuesday night.
“The degree to which government agencies effectively had full access to everything that was going on on Twitter blew my mind,” Musk told Carlson. “I was not aware of that.”
After Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion on Oct. 27, 2022, he laid off more than 70 percent of the company’s staff.
Musk has repeatedly said Twitter’s policies should “match the laws of the country,” The Verge reported. However, for months, he criticized Twitter’s former leadership for allegedly colluding with the US government to suppress political speech. He said he bought Twitter with the goal of making it a haven for free expression.
Musk was accused of hypocricy when he suspended some journalists who wrote about an account that automatically tracked the flights of his private jet using public data. Twitter then changed its rules for all users to prohibit the sharing of another person’s current location without their consent.
Suppressing Twitter content has special significance for the New York Post. Several journalists said to be sympathetic to Musk released a series of internal documents known as the “Twitter Files,” that showed suppression of The Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop.
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Author and former Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi revealed how Twitter asked several government agencies for guidance before banning former President Donald Trump from the platform after the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, in which five people died.
The CIA had been involved in Twitter’s content moderation for years, Taibbi claims.
Musk recently feuded with independent news organization National Public Radio (NPR), falsely applying the label “state-affiliated media” to its Twitter handle. The White House defended the public radio broadcaster and publisher earlier this month.
NPR said last week that it would said it would stop posting on Twitter. After a big blowback, Twitter changed “state-affiliated media” to “government funded” on NPR’s Twitter handle and other media outlets that receive some public funding.
NPR’s journalists “work diligently to hold public officials accountable and inform the American people,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on April 5. It’s clear to anyone who follows their coverage that they are indeed an independent news organization, she said.