Elon Musk joined criticism of Twitter executives

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Elon Musk on Tuesday used his powerful Twitter account to bolster right-wing users who sharply criticized two company executives, exposing them to the online masses who joined in the attacks.

It started with a tweet from political podcast host Saagar Enjeti, who was responding to a report by Politico that Twitter’s legal, policy and trust leader broke down in tears at a meeting with her staff this week.

“Vijaya Gadde, the top censorship advocate at Twitter who famously gaslit the world on Joe Rogan’s podcast and censored the Hunter Biden laptop story, is very upset about the @elonmusk takeover,” Enjeti tweeted.

Tesla CEO Musk, who acquired Twitter for $44 billion this week, replied, criticizing Gadde’s past actions. “Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate,” he wrote.

Twitter accepted a $44 billion takeover offer from Elon Musk on April 25. Why did he want to buy the social media giant? (Video: Hadley Green, Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

Why did Elon Musk buy Twitter?

During the 2020 presidential election, Twitter temporarily blocked a New York Post story on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter that he said violated a policy against posting hacked materials. The company did not suspend the entire news organization but did prevent it from tweeting for a period of time.

Musk’s response Tuesday was the first time he targeted specific Twitter executives by using his nearly singular ability to call attention to topics that interest him. Supporters of Musk, a prolific and freewheeling tweeter with 86 million followers, tend to pile on with his viewpoints of him.

He has used the platform to criticize Twitter’s decisions in the past, particularly on topics related to free speech and the banning of accounts from individuals who violate Twitter rules. Gadde is the most senior executive responsible for those decisions.

He also used his megaphone to take a swipe at Twitter’s popularity, pointing out that Donald Trump’s Social Truth was “beating Twitter & TikTok” among Apple Store downloads early Wednesday.

But until now, Musk’s criticisms do not appear to have been personal or targeted at individual Twitter employees. His responses from him to the tweets from Enjeti and online influencer Mike Cernovich also reveal the chaos — and potential harm — that can ensue when the incoming owner of a company amplifies criticism of workers there.

Twitter, Musk, Enjeti and the two targeted Twitter executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Personal attacks from Musk are a nightmare scenario for Twitter employees, who in recent weeks have repeatedly expressed concerns in interviews and at a companywide town hall that they could be targeted by the world’s richest man.

Twitter workers face a reality they’ve long feared: Elon Musk as owner

Twitter users quickly piled onto the criticism of Gadde, including calling on Musk to fire her and using racist language to describe her. Gadde was born in India and immigrated to the United States as a child. One user said she would “go down in history as an appalling person.”

Cernovich also tweeted about Twitter Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker, drawing a response from Musk.

Cernovich told The Washington Post that he was “surprised by the reaction to my tweet, which was a discussion of a news report.”

In internal messages and at a company town hall Monday, Twitter employees asked executives for assurance that they would be able to safely do their jobs if Musk targeted them.

Elon Musk acquires Twitter for roughly $44 billion

Musk launched a hostile takeover bid for Twitter two weeks ago, citing a desire to restore “free speech” to the platform. Over the weekend, I have engaged in closed-door negotiations with the board. On Monday, the two parties announced they’d reached an agreement for an acquisition that is expected to close in three to six months, according to executives.

Employees who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution have said that they are concerned Musk may undo some of the steps they’ve taken to better moderate hate speech and disinformation.

Faiz Siddiqui contributed to this report.

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