Elon Musk says Twitter has no 'actual choice' when complying with authoritarian government requests to restrict content

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 24: In this photo illustration, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joins Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces to formally announce his run for the Republican nomination for president to on May 24, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. The announcement was hampered by technical difficulties as more than a half million people signed on to listen. (Photo illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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  • Elon Musk has approved more government requests for censorship on Twitter than his predecessor.

  • A "free speech absolutist," Musk previously said he'd only censor Russian news "at gunpoint."

  • Now facing criticism over Twitter's track record, he says there's no "actual choice" but to comply.

After less than a year running the social media site, Elon Musk, who once said he'd only comply with governmental requests to censor content on his platforms "at gunpoint," now says Twitter has no "actual choice" but to do so.

Under Musk's leadership, Twitter approved 83% more requests for censorship from authoritarian governments like Turkey and India than before his takeover in October of last year, El Pais reported.

When Matthew Yglesias, a Bloomberg columnist, tweeted the article on Sunday with a caption quoting Musk calling himself a "free speech absolutist," the Tesla and SpaceX CEO bristled and shot back: "You're such a numbskull. Please point out where we had an actual choice and we will reverse it."

"Look, I'm not the one who bought Twitter amidst a blaze of proclamations about free speech principles," Yglesias responded. "Obviously you're within your rights to run your business however you want."

In March last year, Musk posted: "Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint. Sorry to be a free speech absolutist."


Since he acquired Twitter, those words have often been reflected back in criticism of the billionaire, who has developed a reputation for retaliating against critics and former employees, as well as appearing to ban people from Twitter for "hateful conduct" when they critique him.

Musk and representatives for Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider