Bad form? Controversy over Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover continues, after he engages with critical tweets of two high-ranking Twitter staffers
Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk could be in trouble over his engagement with a number of tweets critical of Twitter employees.
The world’s richest man, as part of his $44bn acquisition of Twitter, had on Tuesday signed an agreement with Twitter, in which he agreed not to “disparage” the company or its representatives while he completes the deal.
Indeed, Twitter’s merger agreement with Musk stipulates the Tesla CEO can tweet about the deal while it is pending “so long as such Tweets do not disparage the Company or any of its Representatives.”
But one day after signing that agreement, Musk on Wednesday responded to two political commentators who criticised two high ranking Twitter staff, provoking a reaction from Twitter’s previous and current CEO.
The first instance came on Tuesday night when Musk responded to a tweet from conservative podcast host Saagar Enjet, in which he flagged an article alleging that Twitter’s legal head, Vijaya Gadde, had become “emotional” during a meeting to discuss the deal.
In the post, Enjeti referred to Gadde as Twitter’s “top censorship advocate”, in a reference to the company’s decision in 2020 to block sharing of a New York Post story about President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, the Guardian reported.
Musk criticised the decision to block the “truthful” story.
Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Musk’s invention triggered tweets attacking Gadde, some of which called her an appalling person, while others called for her to lose her job.
Musk then compounded this, when he also replied to a potentially defamatory tweet from the rightwing commentator Mike Cernovich about Twitter’s deputy general counsel, Jim Baker, which referred to Baker’s work in a previous role at the FBI.
Replying, Musk wrote: “Sounds pretty bad …”
Musk’s engagement with these tweets did not go unnoticed by former and current management at Twitter.
Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo responded to Musk’s comments on Twitter on Wednesday, calling out the CEO for bringing on “harassment and threats” to Gadde.
what’s going on? You’re making an executive at the company you just bought the target of harassment and threats.
— dick costolo (@dickc) April 27, 2022
Costolo added: “Bullying is not leadership”.
But Musk hit back, saying that Twitter needs to be politically neutral.
What are talking about? I’m just saying Twitter needs to be politically neutral.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2022
Shortly after this, Twitter current CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted that he was proud of Twitter’s people.
I took this job to change Twitter for the better, course correct where we need to, and strengthen the service. Proud of our people who continue to do the work with focus and urgency despite the noise.
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) April 27, 2022
Elon Musk’s apparent willingness to engage with tweets critical of senior Twitter officials, will do little to calm the nerves of already jittery Twitter staff.
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has however been backed by co-founder Jack Dorsey.