Known for his frequent social media shenanigans, the world’s richest man and Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a photoshopped meme Wednesday depicting new Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal’s face on former USSR dictator Joseph Stalin’s body, presumably making the loudest criticism yet of Agrawal’s past comments about censorship on the social media platform.
The Key Facts
Musk’s photoshop depicts Agrawal in Stalin’s position and former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the role of Nikolay Yezhov, a close Stalin associate later assassinated under his direction.
Though Musk’s tweet was not accompanied by any text, it appears to reference concerns that Agrawal will usher in an era of increased censorship at Twitter, especially of far-right sources, given some of his prior comments.
The meme is based on a notorious side-by-side image: the original left image portrays Stalin with three men, including Yezhov, while the doctored image on the right depicts the same photo with Yezhov removed by photo retouchers at Stalin’s direction, according to History.com.
Dorsey resigned as Twitter CEO Monday and announced Agrawal, who had served as the company’s CTO since 2017, as Twitter’s next boss in a surprise move. Agrawal was mostly invisible to the media, however many were unhappy with two comments that he made after his appointment. In 2010, Agrawal tweeted “’If they are not gonna make a distinction between muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists,’” which was a quote from “The Daily Show.” In 2020, Agrawal told MIT Technology Review that Twitter isn’t “bound by the First Amendment,” which is true given it’s a private company. Many figures are still to be found, mainly from the right. expressed their disapproval of Agrawal this week as many still disagree with former President Donald Trump’s banYou can access the platform.
The Crucial Quote
Agrawal replied to a query about how Twitter balances misinformation with free speech. “While we are not obliged to adhere to the First Amendment’s requirements, our job is to facilitate healthy public discussion. We believe that our actions will help to foster a better public dialogue. The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed.”
Musk has a history of stirring up controversy on social media. Musk sold 10% of Tesla shares in November after Twitter users suggested that he do so. Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission was not pleased with Musk’s unpredictable Twitter behavior. SME’ latest estimates put Musk’s fortune at $295 billion.
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