Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech was questioned on Saturday amid the social media platform’s move to restrict access to some content in Turkey, where the parliamentary and presidential elections will take place on Sunday.
What Happened: In what is seen as closely contested parliamentary and presidential races, incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take on a unified opposition. Political analysts have raised the possibility of Erodgan’s over-two-decade rule coming to an end amid public discontent over his handling of the economic crisis and an earthquake that claimed the lives of over 50,000 people in February.
Substack author and Bloomberg columnist Matthew Yglesias on Saturday retweeted a tweet from the Twitter Global Government Affairs handle that said that “[in] response to legal process and to ensure Twitter remains available to the people of Turkey, we have taken action to restrict access to some content in Turkey today.”
A follow-up tweet also said that affected account holders were informed of the action and that the restricted content would remain available in the rest of the world.
In response to Twitter’s move, the substack author tweeted that the Turkish government had “asked Twitter to censor its opponents right before the election” and that Musk had complied — a decision that Yglesias added would “generate some interesting Twitter Files reporting.”
The Twitter Files are a series of select internal documents that reveal the platform’s content moderation policies and procedures.
See Also: How Did Elon Musk Make His Money
Accusing Musk of operating with a vested interest, Yglesias tweeted that the billionaire has a much more significant business as the main shareholder of a major international car company, referring to Musk’s Tesla electric vehicle company.
The “company needs to curry favor with various regimes,” Yglesias added.
Musk Goes Off: The columnist’s comments provoked Musk, who explained the tough choices he had to make.
“Did your brain fall out of your head, Yglesias?” Musk responded. “The choice is [to] have Twitter throttled in its entirety or limit access to some tweets.”
“Which one do you want?” Musk asked Yglesias.
Twitter Divided: Independent investigative reporter Brian Krassenstein chimed in and said that he understood the logic behind Twitter’s move. Krassenstein, however, also requested “a public announcement regarding the reasons for the block.
In response, Musk said that Twitter could post what the Turkish government had sent it.
Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment’s Ross Gerber, a Tesla bull, also jumped into the conversation, tweeting, “Free speech isn’t free …” When Musk bought Twitter in Oct. 2022, the billionaire said the purchase was due to his desire to make it a free speech platform.
Another Twitter user also offered their thoughts, tweeting, “The blueprint for government censorship just dropped.”
Going a step further, one Twitter user even asked Musk whether he would do the same if the U.S. government were to make the same request as the Turkish government. “Are you prepared for that eventuality,” they questioned.
Photo: Thomas Hawk via flickr