The announcement by Twitter’s board of directors that it agreed to sell the social media company to Tesla CEO Elon Musk has many critics alarmed, including some Democratic lawmakers.
In a tweet on Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) lamented the reported deal, calling it “dangerous for democracy.”
“Billionaires like Elon Musk play by a different set of rules than everyone else, accumulating power for their own gain,” Warren said, adding that there should be “strong rules” to hold Big Tech accountable.
Other Democrats expressed concern that, under Musk, Twitter would reinstate the account of former President Donald Trump, who was suspended following his supporters’ Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“I don’t think someone who encouraged and organized a violent insurrection should be allowed on Twitter,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) said.
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), meanwhile, questioned what the Twitter sale would mean for Americans’ private information.
“The protection of Americans’ privacy must be a condition of any sale,” Wyden, who is a top privacy advocate on Capitol Hill, said in a tweet.
Musk said previously he was interested in pursuing Twitter because he believes “it’s very important for there to be an inclusive arena for free speech.” On Monday he called the social media company a “digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
Democrats argued that social media websites need more content moderation, not less, in order to stem the tide of lies and misinformation around issues such as U.S. elections and the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not clear whether Trump will want to get back on Twitter even if he is formally reinstated. The former president told Fox News he doesn’t plan to return now that he’s involved with his own social media company, Truth Social. The ex-president’s business venture has struggled to get off the ground. What could change that is Trump deciding to run for president in 2024, though.
One Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.), said he didn’t mind the idea of Trump returning to Twitter. He called the possibility “terrible for the country but really good news for Democrats,” suggesting Trump’s renewed presence on Twitter would be a thorn in the side of Republicans.