UK Parliamentarian Julian Knight
Elon Musk has received a letter inviting him to discuss his bid to buy social media company Twitter for $44 billion. The letter requesting Elon Musk to appear before the UK Parliament was sent by Julian Knight who leads the parliamentary committee on digital, culture, media, and sport.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Julian Knight said that “At a time when social media companies face the prospect of tighter regulations around the world, we’re keen to learn more about how Mr. Musk will balance his clear commitment to free speech with new obligations to protect Twitter’s users from online harms.”
Elon Musk’s desire to buy Twitter has raised more than a few eyebrows from policymakers, human rights groups, and even individuals around the world. These concerns stem from how the billionaire plans to make Twitter a platform for free speech. The concerns surround Elon Musk relaxing policies that Twitter has in place to combat things like hate speech, cyberbullying, etc.
“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, the director of technology and human rights at Amnesty International USA said recently.
Thiery Breton, the European Union’s Commissioner for Internal Markets also recently spoke on Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. While he said that the world’s richest man was free to do as he please with Twitter, he warned that the EU had strict rules for online platforms to tackle content deemed as illegal.
To tackle harmful and illegal content on social media, the UK government is looking to introduce new laws that’ll make social media companies more responsible for their users in the UK. Currently known as the Online Safety Bill, the legislation would allow the media watchdog Ofcom to levy fines of up to 10% of a company’s global annual revenue for violations. Tech executives also face possible jail time for repeated failure to cooperate with regulators.
It is almost similar to the EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA) which is looking to take the heels of control of big tech companies.
Elon Musk’s invitation isn’t the first of its kind. Back in 2018, Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was invited to attend a hearing on disinformation and the Cambridge Analytical data privacy scandal which he failed to appear for.