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Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover Sparks Partisan Debate on the Role of the Government


WASHINGTON— Democrats are worried about Twitter’s security, while Republicans say the criticism is a thinly veiled attempt to shut down conservative voices. President Biden and other Democrats don’t like the fact that Mr. Musk owns Twitter. They say that layoffs of employees could put user data security at risk.

Kevin McCarthy of California, who is likely to be the next speaker of the House, said that Democrats are going after Musk because he lets conservatives use the platform. Musk got Trump’s Twitter account going again.

McCarthy, the leader of the minority in the House, said that Elon’s fight for free speech is a threat to Democrats and traditional media. “While Democrats criticize efforts to give Americans a stronger voice, Republicans will be on the lookout for a plot by Big Tech and this administration to shut down free speech.”

The fight could mean that people will become more divided about the internet and how the government should regulate it. In the past few years, there have been calls for Congress to make privacy protections stronger, stop digital giants from dominating their markets, and change the law that protects big internet companies from being sued for third-party content.

Democrats and Republicans have always worked together on these issues, but there are now more differences between them. Some Democrats say that fake news on Facebook made it easier for Mr. Trump to win the election in 2016.

Republicans have said for a long time that Twitter, Facebook, whose parent company is Meta Platforms Inc., and YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., stifle conservative views. These companies deny this.

After his followers attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, many conservatives were angry that Mr. Trump was banned from Twitter and other social media sites. This led to other social media sites for conservatives, like Trump’s Truth Social.

Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover Sparks Partisan Debate on the Role of the Government

Recently, Republicans have been talking about how Democrats and social media companies worked together to get Covid-19 information. In their civil lawsuit, the Republican attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri plan to question Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is Mr. Biden’s top medical adviser and the government’s top infectious disease official.

The lawsuit claims that the Biden administration worked with social media companies to censor comments about Covid-19 and other topics. Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, said that the government was still committed to fighting fake news that threatens security and questioned claims that it had secretly planned to block comments on social media.

Democrats have said bad things about Musk in more than one way. Some people have talked about his financial ties to China, where Tesla Inc. does a lot of business and the fact that the Saudi prince and other people from the Middle East have small stakes in Twitter.

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Biden: “We should look into Elon Musk’s cooperation or technical contacts with other governments.” The Democratic senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, has asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to look into the Twitter agreement.

Treasury is in charge of Cfius and doesn’t say anything about deals it’s looking at. Janet Yellen told CBS News that she didn’t see any reason to look into Twitter’s purchase. Treasury didn’t want to say anything.

The Democratic-led FTC is worried about Twitter’s ability to live up to a $150 million settlement it made with the company after federal authorities said it collected phone numbers and email addresses for account security and then fed that information into its advertising systems.

On Nov. 17, seven Democratic senators asked FTC Chair Lina Khan to look into possible violations of the Twitter consent decree. The letter said that Musk “made disturbing moves that hurt the integrity and safety of the platform” and that he showed off new features even though there were worries that they could be used for fraud, scams, and even deadly impersonation.

Twitter said nothing. The FTC said that the settlement with Twitter in 2022 “gives us new tools to make sure people follow the rules.” The statement said that companies must follow consent decrees.

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