White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday declined to react to the news that Twitter has agreed to sell itself to Elon Musk but said President Biden has long been concerned about the influence of social-media platforms.
“As a general matter — no matter who owns or runs Twitter — the president has long been concerned about the power of large social-media platforms, the power they have over our everyday lives,” Psaki said during a press briefing. The president “has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause.”
Psaki went on to say that Biden has been a “strong supporter of fundamental reforms to achieve that goal,” including reforms to Section 230, the law that protects social media companies from being legally liable for the content their users post. Biden has also advocated for antitrust reforms and for requiring more transparency from the companies, Psaki said, adding that the president is “encouraged that there’s bipartisan interest in Congress.”
“In terms of what hypothetical policies might happen, I’m just not going to speak to this at that point in time,” she concluded.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki after deal is approved for Elon Musk to acquire Twitter:
"No matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms, the power they have over our everyday lives." pic.twitter.com/wlXqx9SlT7
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 25, 2022
Psaki’s comments came after Twitter announced on Monday that it had accepted the Tesla CEO’s offer to buy the company. The roughly $44 billion deal will see Twitter shareholders receiving $54.20 for each share they own.
Twitter Board members unanimously accepted the deal.
“The Twitter Board conducted a thoughtful and comprehensive process to assess Elon’s proposal with a deliberate focus on value, certainty, and financing,” Twitter Independent Board chair Bret Taylor said in a statement. “The proposed transaction will deliver a substantial cash premium, and we believe it is the best path forward for Twitter’s stockholders.”
Musk, who is the richest man in the world with a net worth of $268.2 billion, said that he wants to make Twitter “better than ever.”
“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,” Musk said in a statement on the deal. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”
Musk wrote in a recent SEC filing that he had invested in Twitter because he believes in its “potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”
“Twitter has extraordinary potential,” he added. “I will unlock it.”
The deal comes as Twitter has been accused of censoring conservative voices. Twitter suspended satire site the Babylon Bee for allegedly violating its policy against “hateful” language by posting a headline calling U.S. assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine, who is transgender, its “Man of the Year.”
In October 2020, Twitter blocked the New York Post’s account for posting a story that detailed emails allegedly found on Hunter Biden’s laptop that was recovered in a repair shop in Delaware. Twitter said the account was suspended because the post violated its “hacked materials policy,” which prohibited posting of “content obtained through hacking that contains private information, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets.” Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey later called the decision a “mistake.”