Elon Musk says he is a free speech absolutist, but his employees tell a different story

After taking over Twitter, Musk is talking big on free speech. He wants to turn it into a platform where even his critics would be allowed to say whatever they want to say. But does he practice free speech in his real life?

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Elon Musk says he is a free speech absolutist, but his employees tell a different story- BPN TODAYY

HIGHLIGHTS

Elon Musk has bought Twitter for $44 billion.

Musk says that Twitter is important for democracy across the world.

Musk says that Twitter should promote absolute free speech.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy,” Elon Musk said as he cracked the Twitter deal after much ado. Even before formally taking over Twitter, Musk had voiced his interest in taking Twitter private to let free speech flourish on the platform. So strong is his insistence on “free speech” that he also wants his worst critics to continue tweeting. But while on one side there is everything that Musk is saying, there is also a side to him that shows that he, on occasions, doesn’t take criticism lightly.

Many are pointing to Musk dealing with criticism at Tesla to highlight that he doesn’t always walk the talk on absolute free speech

A former employee of Tesla, who refused to sign the non-disparagement clause, was laid off from the company. He had shared the copy of the non-disparagement clause with CNBC that Tesla employees were required to sign.

It read, “You agree not to disparage Tesla, the Company’s products, or the Company’s officers, directors, employees, shareholders and agents, affiliates and subsidiaries in any manner likely to be harmful to them or their business, business reputation or personal reputation.”

The same agreement also stops Tesla employees from talking about the said agreement. “The provisions of this Agreement will be held in strictest confidence by you and will not be publicized or disclosed in any manner whatsoever,” the agreement reportedly tells Tesla employees.

The agreement is not the only bit here that may seem unusual when seen in the context of Musk’s insistence on “free speech.”

Back in 2018, Tesla employee Karl Hansen alleged that he was fired from the company after he filed a whistleblower complaint against the electric-car maker for hiding theft and spying on workers. He alleged in his complaint to the SEC (Security Exchange Commission) that Tesla spied on employees by wiretapping and by hacking their smartphones and computers.

Musk has also been accused of trying to control the press. In 2018, Sharon Weinberger, the National Security Editor at the Wall Street Journal, tweeted that Musk ordered a review of all articles (about Tesla) before they were published. “I was once invited to visit SpaceX’s facility on Kwajalein. Following interviews, I was told @elonmusk had to review all articles prior to publication. I explained journalism doesn’t work that way. His current tweets come as no surprise,” Weinberger wrote.

In retaliation, Musk called her “ignorant” and clarified that he did not review the articles but his “team” did

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