Bill Gates says Elon Musk could make Twitter worse

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit on Wednesday, Gates asked Elon Musk: “What does he think of something [on Twitter] who says ‘Vaccines kill people’ or ‘Bill Gates stalks people?’

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Bill Gates has warned that Elon Musk could make Twitter worse after the Tesla CEO pledged to buy the social media company for $44 billion.

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit on Wednesday, Gates said it was unclear how Musk would change Twitter if he took over, while raising concerns about the spread of misinformation about social media platforms.

The Microsoft co-founder admitted that Musk’s track record at other companies is impressive, hailing his time at the helm of Tesla and SpaceX as “breathtaking”. Gates said he thinks Musk has done a good job building a great team of engineers at these companies.

“I a little doubt it will happen this time, but we have to have an open mind and never underestimate Elon,” he said.

The tech billionaire’s comments come after Musk accused him of shorting Tesla stock last month. Musk also tweeted a rude joke about Gates that CNBC decided not to post. Gates said he doesn’t mind insults.

Gates, who has been replaced by Musk as the world’s richest person in recent years, then asked what Musk’s goal is with Twitter and whether his drive to promote free speech makes sense.

“How does he feel about something [on Twitter] who says ‘vaccines kill people’ or ‘Bill Gates stalks people?'” Gates asked.

“What are his goals for what it ends up being? Does it fit with this idea of ​​less extreme lies spreading so quickly [and] strange conspiracy theories? Does he share that goal or not?” Gates said.

A representative for Musk did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Over the past few weeks, Musk has hinted at several ways to improve Twitter beyond promoting free speech. Late on Tuesday, for example, he suggested he could start charging companies a “small” fee to use the platform.

Fight against misinformation

Vaccine misinformation has spread like wildfire on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic, with some falsely claiming that Gates was somehow using vaccines to implant 5G chips on of people so that it can track their location.

“It’s so unexpected and almost so weird,” Gates said. “Now that I’m back in the physical world…people come in screaming and protesting.”

He said it was ‘dangerous’ when people ‘hunted’ the key tool that is being used to save people’s lives and he believes those who own social media platforms have a role to play when it’s It’s about making sure the truth is shared effectively.

Musk’s plan to buy Twitter has policymakers around the world worried.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

“When trusted leaders don’t talk about vaccines, it’s quite difficult for the platform to work against that,” he admitted. “So I think we have a leadership problem and we have a platform problem.”

“The way you make these platforms spread the truth and not some crazy stuff, there’s real invention needed there,” Gates said.

“It’s a huge problem in terms of the legitimacy of elections or medical innovations … any kind of collective behavior,” he added.

The fact that information about drug efficacy can circulate quickly and cheaply should be a blessing to humanity, Gates said, before calling the hydroxychloroquine saga “crazy.”

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “I don’t think digital is responsible for this obsession with drugs that don’t work.”

Gates said he plans to create a 3,000-person social media unit to help spread accurate vaccine information in the future. He stressed that the “right messages” must be delivered by trusted people in the community, such as political and ethnic leaders.

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