Elon Musk beefs up criticism of Twitter executives, sparking online attacks

Elon Musk beefs up criticism of Twitter executives, sparking online attacks

Elon Musk beefs up criticism of Twitter executives, sparking online attacks

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Elon Musk on Tuesday used his powerful Twitter account to support right-wing users who sharply criticized two company executives, exposing them to the masses online who joined in the attacks.

It all started with a tweet from political podcast host Saagar Enjeti responding to a Politico report that Twitter’s legal, policy and trust manager broke down in tears during a meeting with her staff this week.

Vijaya Gadde, the leading censorship advocate on Twitter who celebrated the world on Joe Rogan’s podcast and censored Hunter Biden’s laptop story, is very upset with the @Elon Musk takeover,” Enjeti tweeted.

Musk, CEO of Tesla, which acquired Twitter for $44 billion this week, responded, criticizing Gadde’s past actions. “Suspending a major news organization’s Twitter account for publishing a true story was obviously incredibly inappropriate,” he wrote.

Twitter accepted a $44 billion takeover bid from Elon Musk on April 25. Why did he want to buy the social media giant? (Video: Hadley Green, Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Why did Elon Musk buy Twitter?

During the 2020 presidential election, Twitter temporarily blocked a New York Post article about Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, which it said violated a policy against posting hacked material. The company didn’t suspend the entire news organization, but did stop it from tweeting for a while.

Musk’s response on Tuesday was the first time he has targeted specific Twitter executives using his almost singular ability to draw attention to topics he cares about. Supporters of Musk, a prolific, freewheeling tweeter with 86 million followers, tend to hoard his views.

He has used the platform to criticize Twitter’s decisions in the past, particularly on topics related to free speech and banning accounts of individuals who violate Twitter’s rules. Gadde is the senior executive most responsible for these decisions.

He also used his bullhorn on Tuesday night to attack Twitter for being less popular than other social media apps, pointing to Donald Trump’s Truth Social as Apple’s most downloaded app.

But so far, Musk’s criticisms don’t appear to have been personal or targeted at individual Twitter employees. His responses to tweets from Enjeti and online influencer Mike Cernovich also reveal the chaos — and potential damage — that can ensue when a company’s new owner amps up criticism of workers.

Twitter, Musk, Enjeti and the two targeted Twitter executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Musk’s personal attacks are a nightmare scenario for Twitter employees, who in recent weeks have repeatedly expressed in interviews and at a company town hall concerns they could be targeted by the richest man in the world.

Twitter employees face a reality they’ve long feared: Elon Musk as owner

Twitter users quickly piled on criticism of Gadde, including calling on Musk to fire her and using racist language to describe her. Gadde was born in India and immigrated to the United States as a child. One user said she would “go down in history as a terrible person”.

Cernovich also tweeted about Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, drawing a response from Musk.

Cernovich told The Washington Post he was “surprised by the reaction to my tweet, which was a discussion of a news story.”

In internal posts and at a company town hall on Monday, Twitter employees asked executives to make sure they would be able to do their jobs safely if Musk targeted them.

Elon Musk buys Twitter for around $44 billion

Musk launched a hostile takeover bid on Twitter two weeks ago, citing a desire to restore “free speech” on the platform. Over the weekend, he engaged in closed-door negotiations with the board. On Monday, the two parties announced that they had reached an agreement for an acquisition that should be finalized in three to six months, according to the executives.

Employees who spoke to The Post on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation said they feared Musk would undo some of the steps they have taken to better moderate hate speech and misinformation.

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

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