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Human rights groups express concerns about Musk’s Twitter takeover

Musk, who has been highly critical of Twitter’s censorship of its users, and has called for transparency for its algorithm, faces criticism from the progressive left over his advocacy of free speech.

Human rights groups express concerns about Musk’s Twitter takeover
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
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Human rights groups are expressing their concerns about Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media platform, Twitter. According to the Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, and Amnesty International, Musk, the self-described “free speech absolutist” may be a threat to the platform’s most vulnerable users.

Musk, who has been highly critical of Twitter’s censorship of its users, and has called for transparency for its algorithm, faces criticism from the progressive left over his advocacy of free speech. In his statement announcing his takeover of the platform, Musk described free speech as the “bedrock of a functioning democracy.”

“Regardless of who owns Twitter, the company has human rights responsibilities to respect the rights of people around the world who rely on the platform. Changes to its policies, features, and algorithms, big and small, can have disproportionate and sometimes devastating impacts, including offline violence,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Deborah Brown.

“Freedom of expression is not an absolute right, which is why Twitter needs to invest in efforts to keep its most vulnerable users safe on the platform,” she added in her email to Reuters.

Reuters, which clearly initiated the story by contacting a number of human rights organizations, solicited comments from Twitter but did not receive a response by the time of the report’s publication.

Speaking on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Anthony Romero, an executive director at the organization, said that “there’s a lot of danger having so much power in any one individual.”

Romero remarked that Musk himself was a card-carrying member of the organization and “one of our most significant supporters.”

Despite Musk’s lifelong support for charities and a variety of community-orientated initiatives, the wealthy industrialist has become the target of ire by some of his former liberal supporters, who take issue with his unyielding stance on free speech.

According to Reuters, Amnesty International expressed concerns about any potential decision Twitter will take after Musk’s takeover of the company could erode the policies they have in place to censor so-called “hate speech.”

"The last thing we need is a Twitter that willfully turns a blind eye to violent and abusive speech against users, particularly those most disproportionately impacted, including women, non-binary persons, and others," said Michael Kleinman, director of technology and human rights at the organization’s US branch.

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