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The purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk was not well received in the progressive world, which now sees the richest man in the world, self-described as an “absolutist of freedom of expression”, willing to change the platform’s rules to fight the censorship that had been affecting conservatives and libertarians. The concern is such that several progressive interest groups are orchestrating a campaign against Musk and the main companies that sponsor Twitter.
A letter published in various media outlets bearing the signatures of more than 25 progressive interest groups reads that Musk’s purchase of Twitter is a risk because, “under the guise of ‘free speech,’ his vision will silence and endanger marginalized communities, and tear at the fraying fabric of democracy.”
The letter is signed by the following 26 groups, including Black Lives Matter, Global Network, Accountable Tech, Media Matters for America, UltraViolet, Access Now, and Center for Countering Digital Hate:
According to the missive, “Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter will further toxify our information ecosystem and be a direct threat to public safety, especially among those already most vulnerable and marginalized.”
The letter, which according to CNN was sent to some of the country’s major brands such as Coca-Cola (CCEP), Disney (DIS) and Kraft (KHC), strongly calls for companies that promote themselves on Twitter to stop advertising on the platform if Musk decides to overturn internal policies that resulted in censorship against the media, conservative and libertarian politicians and profiles, including satirical accounts such as The Babylon Bee.
The letter, which is essentially a call to boycott Musk due to his pro-liberal speech, also mentions that companies should stop supporting Twitter if the Tesla and SpaceX owner does not ensure algorithmic accountability and “preserve people’s privacy, and commit to depolarizing the algorithm.”
Companies are also asked to demand Musk to “Continue Twitter’s commitment to transparency and access for investigators” as a requirement to continue publishing their ads.
Who funds the groups that orchestrated anti-Musk campaign?
After the letter was publicly revealed, Elon Musk himself posted a message on his Twitter account suggesting that it would be interesting to know who is behind the signatory interest groups.
“Who funds these organizations that want to control your access to information? Let’s investigate…,” Musk tweeted.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” he added in a second post.
The following day, May 4, the British media outlet Daily Mail published a report where it revealed the names of those who fund and founded these groups. Musk himself posted a tweet with the report and the following message: “Interesting. I wonder if those funding these organizations are fully aware of what the organizations are doing.”
The report reads that the three main groups promoting the boycott, Accountable Tech, Media Matters for America and UltraViolet, whose logos appear in the header, were founded by former staffers of the once presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, such as political consultant and expert journalist David Brock, one of the main communications operators of the Democratic Party, according to Time. The boycott also receives the support from several U.S. unions like the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO)
Likewise, other organizations outside the United States, like Access Now, are backed by European governments, and tycoon George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, the group’s second largest donor after the Swedish government’s development agency. As stated by the British media, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada, have also contributed large amounts to Access Now.
Accountable Tech, the first group investigated, is based in Washington, led by “Nicole Gill, a political campaigner and founder of the 2017 Tax March; and Jesse Lehrich, a former foreign policy spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and nephew of David Axelrod, former senior advisor to Barack Obama.”
This group, whose figure is 501(c)(4) and as such does not have to disclose its donor list and thus is not required to show its funders, claims on its website that social media giants are eroding consensus reality and pushing democracy to the brink.
Media Matters for America is a group that calls itself “the nation’s leading progressive media watchdog group.” It was founded by the aforementioned David Brock in 2004, has more than 450,000 followers on Twitter, and is one of the main communications arms of the Democratic Party and its more radical policies. Persistently, Media Matters for America charges against important figures in the conservative and libertarian world, such as Tucker Carlson or Elon Musk. They also often label independent and alternative media as promoters of “misinformation” or “conspiracy theories.”
UltraViolet, which would be the newest of the three organizations displaying their logos, was founded in 2012 and, according to its own website, fights “sexism” and aims to “create a more inclusive world that accurately represents all women, from politics and government to media and pop culture.”
The Daily Mail reported that this interest group is backed by several American unions, including the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers.
“Musk is famously anti-union, and has been excluded from White House electric vehicle manufacturing events due to the fact that Tesla’s workforce is not unionized,” the British newspaper explained.
Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.
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