Amazon founder Bezos claims China has ‘leverage’ over Musk following Twitter takeover

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Yesterday, SpaceX CEO and the world’s richest man Elon Musk reached a deal with Twitter to buy the social media platform in a $44 billion deal (£34.8 billion). Following a dramatic two-week long takeover attempt, Mr Musk’s offer to buy the social networking app finally prevailed, with the billionaire promising to unlock the “tremendous potential” that Twitter has during his ownership.

This change in ownership has caused several parties to raise alarm bells, ranging from politicians to hate speech activists.

However, one of the prominent critics of the takeover was Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, who commented on the influence China could have on Mr Musk and Twitter.

The former richest man tweeted: “Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?”

While Twitter is blocked in China, Mr Musk’s Tesla is heavily dependent on the country for its battery manufacturing capabilities, evening having a Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai.

China is also the largest market for Tesla vehicles after the US.

These factors suggest Xi Jinping could attempt to use Mr Musk’s interests in China to influence how Twitter operates, potentially hamstringing his bid to make the site a hub for free speech.

About an hour after his tweet, Mr Bezos downplayed his earlier tweet, saying: “My own answer to this question is probably not.

“The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship of Twitter.

“But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.”

When asked about Mr Bezo’s comments, Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said in a press briefing that there was no basis for claims that Beijing would seek to use the Twitter takeover to influence the social media platform.

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are competitors in the space industry, with Mr Bezo’s space company Blue Origin looking to rival Mr Musk’s SpaceX.

Mr Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has caused both the EU and the UK to issue warnings that the site must remain “responsible” and comply with new laws designed to protect users.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said: “Regardless of ownership, all social media platforms must be responsible.

“That includes protecting users from harm on their sites.

“It is too early to say what — if any — changes will be made to how Twitter operates.

“It remains an important tool, it’s used by world leaders, and we will continue to work with them to make sure it continues to improve.”

Last month, the Government introduced its Online Safety Bill before the parliament, which is aimed at targeting child abuse and fraud online.

The Bill will also place more responsibility on social media networks to remove content that is “legal but harmful”, such as racist language and bullying.

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