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Jeff Bezos questions Chinese ‘leverage’ over Twitter under Elon Musk

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Tuesday questioned whether China could have influence over Twitter after entrepreneur Elon Musk clinched a $44 billion deal to take over the social media platform.

“Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Bezos wrote on Twitter.

Bezos was responding to a tweet by a New York Times journalist pointing out that the second-largest market for Musk’s Tesla cars is China, which is also a major producer of battery technology for the vehicles.

But two hours later, Bezos appeared to soften his remarks, saying Chinese authorities would “probably not” gain influence over Twitter.

“The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter,” he added. “But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.”

After Twitter’s board of directors accepted the takeover offer Monday from Musk, the world’s richest person, opinion was split over the future of the platform, which has around 206 million daily users.

Some, including conservative lawmakers in the U.S., applauded the prospect of the platform becoming less moderated than it is currently, given Musk has previously described himself as a “free speech absolutist.” Others raised concerns that hate speech may now be less regulated, while figures banned from the platform such as former U.S. President Donald Trump could be allowed to return.

Musk has said he wants to take Twitter private and make its algorithm open source if the takeover goes ahead as planned. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” he said in a press release announcing the decision.

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