Elon Musk Softens Stance On Freedom Of Speech In Call With Advertisers: Doesn’t Mean ‘Freedom Of Reach’

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Twitter’s owner and CEO Elon Musk seemingly softened his stance on free speech on Twitter on a call with advertisers streamed on the social media platform Wednesday.

Musk, who characterized himself as a “free speech absolutist” in a March tweet where he refused to censor Russian news sources on his Starlink satellite internet service, alleged in a Nov. 4 tweet that Twitter was suffering from a “massive drop in revenue” as brands paused their ad buys on Twitter amid concerns that the new CEO would scale back content moderation. In a nearly hour-long call with advertisers Musk recommitted to providing a safe space for ad content following comments by Twitter’s head of trust and safety Yoel Roth, who noted that Twitter would put more emphasis on tools beyond simply banning users and deleting tweets to moderate content. (RELATED: Pfizer And General Mills Among Companies Suspending Twitter Ads After Musk Takeover: REPORT)

“There’s a big difference between freedom of speech and freedom of reach,” said Musk in response to a question, posed by Twitter’s Client Solutions Leader Robin Wheeler, about how the social media giant plans to develop an online “town square” while shielding users from content that they might find objectionable. “At least in the United States, we’re great believers in freedom of speech. So, somebody can say all sorts of things that we don’t agree with and find unsavory … like if you just were to go to Times Square right now there’s gonna be [somebody] saying something crazy … we don’t throw [them in] prison for that but we also don’t [put them] on a gigantic billboard in Times square … We have to be, I think, tolerant of views we don’t agree with, but those views don’t need to be amplified.“

The tech mogul is reportedly planning to end the practice of permanently banning users, preferring temporary suspensions and other measures. Changes to Twitter’s moderation policy will not change until a “content moderation council” convenes, according to an Oct. 28 tweet from Musk.

Musk formally acquired Twitter on Oct. 27, following a monthslong legal battle where he attempted to escape the $44 billion deal over allegations that he was misled about the company’s value by executives. One of Musk’s first moves upon becoming the company’s sole owner was to fire a variety of high level executives, including former head of legal policy, trust and safety Vijaya Gadde.

“These are difficult moral concepts to grapple with,” Musk concluded. “Like I said, we’ll do our best to do the right thing here, what we think is the right thing, and adjust course if that does not seem to be working.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment

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