Elon Musk Puts His Own Politics on Display on Election Day

Elon Musk put himself and his politics heart stage on Twitter on Election Day.

The world’s richest man started Tuesday by tweeting to his 115 million followers on the platform that they need to vote Republican within the midterm elections. He stated he was not motivated by criticism that he had confronted from Democrats over his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, which he accomplished final month, and his different enterprise dealings.

“Whereas it’s true that I’ve been underneath unfair & deceptive assault for a while by main Democrats, my motivation right here is for centrist governance, which matches the pursuits of most People,” Mr. Musk stated.

His posts about politics and the midterms adopted a number of tweets on Monday, when Mr. Musk urged his followers to vote Republican as a result of “shared energy curbs the worst excesses of each events.” His remarks have been instantly cheered by these on the proper and criticized by the left. Mr. Musk later added that he was an unbiased and was open to voting for Democrats sooner or later.

Mr. Musk has defied company conference all through his profession, however not often has an government with such a strong function over political speech so overtly outlined his views heading into an election. Many mainstream web firms have sometimes tried projecting apolitical stances.

Jack Dorsey, a former Twitter chief government, and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief government of Meta, beforehand mentioned preferences for candidates or gave hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to political initiatives. However they didn’t push folks to vote a sure manner like Mr. Musk, who pinned one in every of his messages supporting Republicans to the highest of his Twitter feed. It’s inconceivable to inform what number of of Mr. Musk’s followers will take his recommendation.

“With a suggestion of how Twitter customers ought to vote, the billionaire proprietor of a social media platform inserting his thumbs on the scales of a significant election creates its personal dangers,” Edward P. Perez, a board member with the OSET Institute, a nonpartisan election safety group, tweeted on Tuesday. Mr. Perez beforehand helped oversee work at Twitter on civic processes.

Mr. Musk’s habits raises extra questions on how Twitter will stability his want for the platform to be a hub for unfettered free speech versus the necessity to counter misinformation and hate. The social media service is underneath heavy scrutiny for the way it will fare in combating falsehoods about voting, election outcomes and extra within the midterms. That’s particularly the case since Mr. Musk laid off roughly half of Twitter’s employees, about 3,700 folks, on Friday, main critics to surprise how the positioning might perform successfully.

Mr. Musk, who tweeted a link to a baseless story about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband final month earlier than deleting it, didn’t reply to a request for remark. Twitter, which laid off most of its communications division, additionally didn’t reply to a request for remark.

In a report on Monday, researchers on the Fletcher Faculty at Tufts College stated that “the standard of the dialog has decayed” on Twitter since Mr. Musk’s takeover, as extra extremists and misinformation peddlers have examined the platform’s boundaries.

And in a report launched on Saturday by the Election Integrity Partnership, which incorporates the Stanford Web Observatory and the College of Washington’s Middle for an Knowledgeable Public, researchers discovered the presence and affect of misinformation on Twitter to be pervasive.

Researchers checked out 34 main accounts that unfold deceptive claims concerning the 2020 election previously and found “tons of of false, deceptive or unsubstantiated tales that sowed doubt in election procedures or outcomes.” Whereas seven of the accounts have been completely suspended from Twitter, they’ve largely been in a position to proceed posting on different platforms, with their posts typically re-emerging on Twitter through screenshots, the researchers stated.

Widespread Trigger, a pro-democracy advocacy group, stated this week that it had flagged a number of tweets pushing false narratives, comparable to that election outcomes not introduced on Tuesday evening are an indication of fraud. The group stated that “it has taken Twitter for much longer than regular to adjudicate” whether or not the posts violated its insurance policies, a course of that often takes lower than three hours however was unresolved after greater than three days.

On Tuesday, a number of main conservative accounts on Twitter continued to amplify the misconception that tallying delays have been proof of malfeasance, whereas additionally fueling different rumors about technical difficulties around the vote in Arizona and elsewhere.

Some Twitter executives tried to assuage considerations concerning the platform within the midterms. Yoel Roth, the corporate’s head of belief and security, who helps oversee content material moderation, tweeted last week that about 15 % of his group had been laid off, versus about 50 % companywide.

“Our efforts on election integrity — together with dangerous misinformation that may suppress the vote and combating state-backed data operations — stay a high precedence,” Mr. Roth wrote.

Mr. Musk has stated he plans to form a council that can make content material moderation choices. He has additionally stated a number of instances that Twitter has not modified its content material guidelines, although he stated on Sunday that he would permanently suspend any account “participating in impersonation with out clearly specifying ‘parody’” after a number of folks modified their show names and profile pictures to match his.

How we get dwell outcomes on election evening. We report vote totals offered by The Related Press, which collects outcomes from states, counties and townships by means of a community of internet sites and greater than 4,000 on-the-ground correspondents. To estimate what number of votes stay to be counted, our staff of knowledge journalists and software program engineers gathers vote tallies straight from the web sites of election officers and compares these with our turnout expectations.

Considerations that falsehoods and hate speech might proliferate on Twitter underneath Mr. Musk have spooked advertisers. A spokesman for the German insurance coverage firm Allianz stated on Monday that it might halt its promoting on Twitter for now, becoming a member of Common Mills, Volkswagen Group and others which have pulled again from the social community.

Mr. Musk has been vocal about his politics previously. A onetime supporter of President Barack Obama, he extra just lately has clashed with and mocked President Biden and his administration. Final yr, after Mr. Musk’s SpaceX rocket firm launched 4 civilians into house on a historic private mission, one Twitter person requested why the president had not acknowledged the accomplishment.

“He’s nonetheless sleeping,” Mr. Musk wrote, an obvious riff off a standard Republican insult of Mr. Biden.

Onstage at a tech convention in September 2021, Mr. Musk additionally known as Mr. Biden’s White Home “not the friendliest administration” after Tesla, his electrical automaker, was not invited to a gathering amongst automotive executives to debate the manufacturing of electrical autos. Mr. Musk later stated within the interview that the Biden administration was “managed by the unions.” (Tesla’s staff usually are not unionized, and the company has resisted organizing efforts.)

Mr. Musk has additionally posted that he believes that the Democratic Social gathering is managed by “the far left” and has clashed on Twitter with progressive lawmakers like Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

In a tweet in Could, Mr. Musk stated he had beforehand voted for Democrats “as a result of they have been (largely) the kindness occasion.” However since then, he added, “they’ve grow to be the occasion of division & hate, so I can not assist them and can vote Republican.”

His political messages on Monday and Tuesday drew a firestorm. Democrats, together with David Axelrod, who was chief strategist to Mr. Obama, criticized the billionaire for his voting method to “shared energy” among the many branches of presidency. On the opposite facet, Republicans, together with candidates for Home seats within the midterms, used it as a rallying cry.

On Tuesday, Mr. Musk oscillated between posts about politics and the social community itself.

“Twitter is the worst!” he tweeted. “But additionally one of the best.”

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