Elon Musk’s successful bid for Twitter has triggered widespread reaction around the world, but not all of is overly positive, including concern expressed by human rights groups.

Indeed, it is far to say that there seems to be a widespread concern on social media about the move, with some worried that the world’s richest man will be in control of ‘free speech’ on the platform.

Critics also say that Musk’s free speech quest does not excuse the right to promote hate speech or misleading information on the platform.

And other critics of the takeover point to Elon Musk’s previous actions, which allegedly includes blocking certain users who cross him on the platform, and Musk personally cancelling the Tesla order of a blogger in 2016.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey

Some observers are also worried that Musk simply does not have enough spare time to focus on Twitter, given his existing CEO roles at Tesla and SpaceX, and his other ventures including the Boring company and Neuralink .

But Elon Musk’s takeover has been publicly backed by former CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey, who last week criticised Twitter’s board of directors.

Dorsey has reasons not to be overly friendly to Twitter’s board of directors, as some shareholders actively sought his removal during his second tenure as CEO.

But once Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was confirmed on Monday, Dorsey said that Musk’s (and Parag’s) goal was the “right one” and the platform is now on the “right path”.

Dorsey is not the only co-founder of Twitter, as the platform was founded back on 15 July 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams.

Other co-founders have not so far publicly expressed any opinion, although Biz Stone did tweet the following.

Human rights concern

Besides concern from Twitter users, a number of human rights organisations also expressed their concerns about hate speech on Twitter and the power that Elon Musk will now wield in his role as free speech champion, Reuters reported.

“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,” Deborah Brown, a digital rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters in an email.

“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.

Meanwhile the ACLU also voiced its concern.

“While Elon Musk is an ACLU card-carrying member and one of our most significant supporters, there’s a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of any one individual,” Anthony Romero, executive director at the American Civil Liberties Union, told Reuters after the deal was announced.

Amnesty International was also quoted by Reuters as saying it was concerned about any potential decision that Twitter may take after Musk’s takeover to erode enforcement of the policies and mechanisms designed to moderate hate speech online.

“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,” Michael Kleinman, director of technology and human rights at Amnesty International USA, said on Monday.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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