US tech billionaire Elon Musk has lashed out online amid criticism of his X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter.
Musk appeared to take aim at his own website after a Washington Post exposé found that X had become more willing to hand over data to authorities in Germany in relation to so-called “hate speech” criminal cases since Musk bought the platform.
Writing on the website, Musk appeared to distance himself from the change.
At the risk of stating the obvious, I don’t know what’s going on with every part of this platform all the time, but our policy worldwide is to fight for maximum freedom of speech under the law.
Anyone working for X Corp who does not operate according to this principle will be… https://t.co/9gkIOnF8hu
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2023
“At the risk of stating the obvious, I don’t know what’s going on with every part of this platform all the time, but our policy worldwide is to fight for maximum freedom of speech under the law,” he said.
He went on to suggest that those responsible for handing over user data to German authorities regarding alleged criminal speech might want to start job hunting.
“Anyone working for X Corp who does not operate according to this principle [of maximum freedom of speech under the law] will be invited to further their career at any one of the other social media companies who sell their soul for a buck.”
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 25, 2023
According to the Washington Post, law enforcement officials in Germany have claimed that Twitter, now X, has become more willing to hand over user data in relation to illegal speech in the country since Musk bought the platform last year.
Germany is known for having particularly tough laws controlling speech for a Western country. For instance, it is a criminal offence to defame politicians in office, or even to insult them in certain ways.
“Before Musk, we almost never got data for digital hate-crime cases,” a public prosecutor in Cologne said.
“After the acquisition, we almost always did.”
In contrast to X’s apparent willingness to work with authorities in Germany, Musk has taken an increasingly hostile approach to lawmakers in Ireland.
That country is at the heart of the European Union’s internet regulation push due to the number of Big Tech companies that have their European headquarters in Dublin. Ireland has been keen to pass a new anti-hate-speech bill, with the country’s government seeing the legislation as needed to combat the rise of the hard-right in Ireland.
Ireland’s Prime Minister has accused Elon Musk of “showboating” with his threats to challenge the country’s coming anti-hate-speech laws in court. https://t.co/6GM0OcQV6B
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 28, 2023
The bill has received international condemnation over the past few months. Concerns have been raised that the proposed rules would be among the most draconian in the Western world.
Musk has now vowed to challenge the bill in the Irish courts as soon as it becomes law.
“X will be filing legal action to stop this,” the billionaire wrote online, adding that he could “not wait” for legal proceedings to start.
The country’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has seemingly called the tech tsar’s bluff.
“I suspect he doesn’t know what he means and is just showboating,” he told Irish media, which has largely supported increasing speech regulations in the country.
US billionaire Elon Musk and his X social media platform appear to be off the hook for now with the European Commission leaving the company outside the scope of much of its Digital Markets Act. https://t.co/gUnn912LEe
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 6, 2023