Twitter Execs Duck Musk, Free Speech Questions at Shareholder Meeting

Twitter leaders bobbed and weaved as investors asked about their favorite billionaire troll, but the questions just kept on coming
190

One might have expected the bosses at Twitter to discuss Elon Musk’s possibly stalled $44 billion (or less) bid to acquire the social media platform at its annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, but they were oddly silent on the issue. Fortunately, some right-leaning First Amendment specialists jumped into the vacuum and got the Tesla CEO’s name into the conversation, while accusing current company leadership of abandoning free speech.

Investors on the call certainly did ask Twitter’s potentially-outgoing executives what would happen to the value of their shares if the SpaceX gadfly took over the business, but those questions were quickly shut down, the Washington Post reports.

Brushing aside queries about the deal—which supposedly hangs in the balance as Musk attempts to determine what percentage of Twitter users are bots and other crude spam creatures—the Twitter honchos said the deal would be addressed at a later meeting.

Until that time, however, CEO Parag Agrawal assured investors that everything at the company was business as usual, saying, “We are working through the transaction process. Our teams and I remain focused.”

Later in the call, two speakers raised issues of how the platform monitors and, some say, censors speech. According to the Post, the speakers called on Musk, who did not participate in the meeting, to “put more constraints on Twitter’s policies and practices regarding misinformation and race.”

A representative for conservative think tank the National Center for Public Policy Research proposed that Twitter audit its discrimination policies, accusing the corp of discriminating against white people and men. Appealing directly to Musk, the rep said Twitter had become too liberal and suggested, “Let’s cure the DEI mind virus spreading inside Twitter,” referring to the company’s record on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Another representative, this time from the National Legal and Policy Center, also hoped that a Musk-owned Twitter would be a more welcoming home for free speech. The NLPC’s official shareholder proposal requests that Twitter provide detailed disclosures about its lobbying activities, the Post reports. Its member described Twitter command as “master misinformers,” adding that it was “no wonder Elon Musk is buying the company.”

Explained the shareholder rep: “Cleaning up this mess can’t come soon enough.”

The Twitter executives talked up their support for free speech, according to Protocol, downplaying content-moderation efforts, and saying Twitter needed to take a “more measured” approach to hiring that focused on engineering and product.

“Silencing political commentary is antithetical to our commitment to free speech,” Agrawal said. “Our tools and processes aim to enforce these rules without any bias and do so dispassionately and equally for all users, regardless of their background [or] political affiliation.”

Musk, meanwhile, at least gave the appearance that he’s still spending “<5%” of his time thinking about the acquisition. Throughout the duration of the Twitter call, Musk could be found entertaining himself on that very same social media monstrosity. At first, he was discussing some of the finer points of the DNC/Trump/Steele Dossier kerfuffle with Matt Taibbi, and then drifted into the much more relevant world of Elden Ring.


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.