Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos on Monday mulled whether China has gained leverage over what happens on Twitter now that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has secured a $44 billion deal with the social media company.
“Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage of the town square?” Bezos tweeted in response to a New York Times reporter who noted Tesla’s reliance on China for its large market and lithium batteries.
The reporter noted that Tesla’s second-biggest market after the U.S. in 2021 was China and that Chinese battery makers are major suppliers for Tesla’s electric vehicles. He also noted that when China banned Twitter in 2009, the government “had almost no leverage over the platform.” He then suggested that, due to Musk’s acquisition, “That may have just changed.”
Bezos, however, went on to say that Beijing likely did not gain leverage over Twitter.
“My own answer to this question is probably not,” the Amazon founder 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,” Bezos added. The “town square” presumably refers to Musk’s tweet after securing the deal with Twitter: “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.”