Elon Musk is responding to tweets criticizing Twitter. Is he allowed to do that?
Elon Musk is used to tweeting what’s on his mind, but as a condition of his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, the company wants some say in his rhetoric.
The billionaire Tesla CEO is allowed to tweet about the merger, “so long as such Tweets do not disparage the Company or any of its Representatives,” according to a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But since Monday, Musk has replied to tweets critical of the company and some executives.
On Wednesday afternoon, Musk tweeted a meme with a picture of Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, that criticized what Gadde said during a 2019 episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast. During the episode Gadde, who appeared on the show with former CEO Jack Dorsey, discussed Twitter’s moderation policies.
Less than a minute later, Costolo, who was replaced as CEO by Dorsey in 2015, wrote in a separate tweet, “Bullying is not leadership.”
Musk had previously replied to a critical tweet about Twitter’s top lawyer Vijaya Gadde on Tuesday that focused on the company’s decision in 2020 to temporarily ban a New York Post story about President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
The social media company temporarily banned the story and prevented the Post from tweeting for a time based on its “hacked material policy.” The company later changed the rule to specify that it would only block hacked content directly shared by hackers and their co-conspirators, and focus more on putting context labels on tweets instead of blocking them, according to a series of October 2020 tweets by Gaade.
Calling Gadde Twitter’s “top censorship advocate” YouTuber Saagar Enjeti tweeted a screenshot of a Politico article reporting that Gadde cried during a staff meeting in which she discussed possible changes Musk would make to the social media website.
“Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate,” Musk wrote in reply to Enjeti’s tweet.
Gadde’s Twitter account was filled with hateful and critical messages. Replies under her most recent tweet include users goading her about her “wokeness,” and some implying that she will be fired or will leave the company soon.
Gaade previously advocated for using moderation policies to protect Twitter’s most vulnerable users, including women and minority groups. She was heavily involved in the social media website’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump from its platform in 2021.
Musk has recently called for a change in how Twitter moderates tweets, with an emphasis on what he says is “free speech.” The Tesla CEO said recently at the TED Conference that Twitter should not remove content beyond what it is legally required to, Axios reported.
Twitter did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Musk’s tweets. Fortune was not able to contact Musk directly.
Twitter’s other lawyer
In a separate reply on Tuesday, Musk commented in response to a post about Twitter lawyer Jim Baker.
In a tweet accompanied by a screenshot of an article about Baker’s alleged interactions with Democratic-linked lawyer Michael Sussman while he was working for the FBI, right-wing social media personality Mike Cernovich took a shot at Baker.
In reply, Musk tweeted, “Sounds pretty bad …”
Mike Cernovich did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment.
In a follow-up to his Wednesday tweet, Musk took a shot at Trump’s social media website, Truth Social, saying it had a “terrible name.” He added in the tweet that Truth Social only exists because, as he put it, “Twitter censored free speech.”
Musk has also criticized Twitter in the more distant past.
In early April, he asked his millions of followers if Twitter should turn its San Francisco headquarters into a homeless shelter, according to CNBC. In another tweet, Musk published a poll asking if Twitter should drop the letter “w” from its name. Both tweets have since been deleted.
On Monday, Musk reached an agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion following a hostile takeover bid. The deal comes after Twitter’s board unanimously voted to adopt a “poison pill” defense that was meant to make it harder for Musk to take over the company.
Update, April 27, 2022: This article has been updated to include mention of a Wednesday tweet by Elon Musk.
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