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Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the two richest people on Earth, are at loggerheads again. (photo: spring)

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the two richest people on Earth, are at loggerheads again. (photo: spring)

Jeff Bezos Questions Musk: Did The Chinese Government Just Gain Leverage Over The Town Square?

Jeff Bezos shared a tweet suggesting China may gain influence over Twitter once Elon Musk buys the company, hinting at Musk’s business ties to China.

By Ryan Browne, CNBC

Amazon’s billionaire co-founder Jeff Bezos has weighed in on Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

 

Screenshot from Twitter

Screenshot from Twitter

Bezos shared a tweet late Monday suggesting that China may gain influence over Twitter once the acquisition completes.

“Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Bezos wrote, hinting at Musk’s business ties to China. The Tesla CEO established a factory in Shanghai in 2018 and the company relies heavily on Chinese firms to supply the materials that go into its batteries.

Twitter’s board agreed Monday to an acquisition of the company by Musk. Twitter will be taken private at $54.20 per share in a deal valuing the firm at roughly $44 billion.

Twitter is banned in China. Beijing’s so-called “Great Firewall” prohibits access to a number of Western social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

“My own answer to this question is probably not,” Bezos added. “The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter.”

“But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity,” he added.

Despite the caveat, Bezos’ comments are the latest in a long-running feud between the two billionaires.

The pair have frequently sparred over their respective space ambitions over the years. Musk is CEO of SpaceX, while Bezos runs his own space venture, Blue Origin.

While Musk has promised to improve Twitter’s role as a “digital town square” in which users can speak and debate freely, the takeover has sparked concern from some politicians and campaigners who worry it will give the world’s richest man too much control over online discourse.

Billionaires owning media companies is not a new phenomenon, however. Bezos himself owns The Washington Post, while Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff bought Time Magazine in 2018. But Twitter is unique in that it’s a platform where millions of people interact as well as share content — and as such is under close scrutiny from regulators.

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