Jeff Bezos asks if China will have influence on Twitter

Jeff Bezos has questioned whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s leveraged buyout of Twitter will give China leverage over the social media company.

Late Monday, the Amazon founder retweeted an observation from New York Times Journalist Mike Forsythe, adding his own comment: “Interesting question. Has the Chinese government just gotten a little hold on the town square?”

The suggestion is that Musk’s business interests in China will leave him vulnerable to pressure from Beijing.

China is Tesla’s largest market after the US, according to Forsythe, and the automaker is dependent on Chinese battery makers. (Bezos also has interests in China, with China-based sellers reportedly accounting for 75% of new sellers on Amazon as of January 2021.)

Continue reading: Elon Musk might find fixing Twitter harder than he thinks

About an hour after his tweet, Bezos appeared to downplay the suggestion, noting that “the more likely outcome” would be “complexity in China for Tesla and not censorship on Twitter.”

His comments came hours after Twitter’s board of directors approved the $44 billion buyout — one of the largest leveraged buyouts by a public company.

Though changes to Twitter have not been officially announced, Musk’s acquisition has sparked debate about freedom of speech.

Musk is a self styled “Freedom of Speech absolutist” and has proposed making content moderation easier on the platform. The 50-year-old business tycoon said he wants to open source Twitter’s algorithm to boost trust, defeat spam bots and authenticate users. He also promised an edit button for tweets.

Continue reading: What Elon Musk’s Twitter Purchase Could Do for Donald Trump’s Account

The political right cheers about the purchase. US Republican Representative Jim Jordan of the conservative Freedom Caucus called It was “a great day for freedom of speech,” while Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said called She hoped Twitter would “become what it was meant to be: the online public space for everyone with different views.”

But critics say toxic rhetoric will thrive if substantive moderation is relaxed. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that Musk’s takeover of Twitter was “dangerous to our democracy.”

More must-read stories from TIME

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Justin Scacco

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