Is Elon Musk planning to launch his own social media platform?

Twitter is undermining democracy by not sticking to free speech principles, Tesla chief executive says

Tesla founder Elon Musk, who has 79.2 million followers on Twitter, asked them if they felt another social media channel was needed. AFP

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Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, appears to be thinking about creating a social media platform as Twitter and Facebook face criticism from users that they are not doing enough to uphold free speech and support democracy.

“Twitter failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” he said in a series of tweets on Saturday.

Mr Musk, the world's richest person with a net worth of $198.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, added that free speech is essential to a functioning democracy and asked users to respond to a poll on whether they believed “Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle”.

In response to his poll, 70.4 per cent of users said Twitter does not stick to free speech principles, while 29.6 per cent supported the social media platform.

In a follow-up post, Mr Musk asked: “Is a new platform needed?”

A number of his followers responded positively to the suggestion, with one saying the billionaire should buy Twitter. Another said: “We definitely needed it.”

Some even suggested a name for a new social media platform, while a follower asked when Mr Musk will build one.

“Am giving serious thought to this,” Mr Musk replied.

Mr Musk, who has 79.2 million Twitter followers, uses the platform primarily to express his opinions on a number of topics ranging from cryptocurrencies to the crisis in Ukraine and about his new projects.

This month, Bitcoin, Ether and Dogecoin received a quick boost after Mr Musk tweeted that he owns the digital tokens and is not planning to sell.

In February, the US Securities and Exchange Commission said it was investigating whether recent stock sales by Mr Musk and his brother, Kimbal, “violated insider trading rules”, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources.

The investigation began last year after Kimbal Musk sold shares in Tesla, valued at $108 million, one day before his brother polled Twitter users asking if he should offload 10 per cent of his stake in the electric car maker.

Tesla, the world's most valuable electric car maker, reported its largest quarterly net profit between October and December.

The company crossed the $2 billion mark in net profit for the first time despite a global semiconductor shortage and supply chain disruptions that have affected the car industry worldwide.

Tesla's fourth-quarter net profit rose about 760 per cent year on year to more than $2.3bn, almost $700m more than the income it earned in the same period in 2020.

There has been growing criticism of social media platforms in recent times. India's Congress party president Sonia Gandhi this month asked the government to “put an end to the systematic interference of Facebook and other social media giants in the electoral politics of the world’s largest democracy”.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 4:16 AM
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