Bill Gates says Elon Musk can make Twitter worse

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal summit on Wednesday, Gates asked Elon Musk: “How does he feel about something? [on Twitter] who says “vaccines kill people” or that “Bill Gates tracks people?”

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty pictures

Bill Gates has warned that Elon Musk could make Twitter “worse”[ads1]; after the Tesla boss promised to buy the social media company for 44 billion dollars.

Gates said in a speech at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Summit on Wednesday that it is unclear how Musk will change Twitter if he takes ownership, while at the same time raising concerns about the spread of misinformation on social media platforms.

The Microsoft founder admitted that Musk’s track record at other companies is impressive, praising his time at the helm of Tesla and SpaceX as “fantastic”. Gates said he thought Musk had done a good job of putting together a great team of engineers at these companies.

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

The tech billionaire’s comments come after Musk accused him of shorting Tesla shares last month. Musk also tweeted a rough joke about Gates that CNBC has decided not to print. Gates said the insults did not bother him.

Gates, who has been replaced by Musk as the world’s richest man in recent years, went on to question what Musk’s goal is with Twitter and whether his drive to promote freedom of expression makes sense.

“How does he feel about something [on Twitter] which says “vaccines kill people” or that “Bill Gates tracks people?”, Gates asked.

“What are his goals for what it ends up being? Does it agree with this idea of ‚Äč‚Äčless extreme untruths spreading so fast? [and] weird conspiracy theories? Does he share that goal or not? “Said Gates.

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

In recent weeks, Musk has suggested a number of ways he can look to improve Twitter beyond promoting free speech. Late on Tuesday, for example, he suggested that he could start charging companies a “small” fee for using the platform.

Fight misinformation

Vaccine misinformation has spread like wildfire on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic, with some mistakenly claiming that Gates somehow used vaccines to implant 5G chips in people so he could track position their.

“It’s so unexpected and almost so bizarre,” Gates said. “Now that I’m back in the physical world … people come up and shout and protest.”

He said it is “dangerous” when people “throw out” the key tool used to save people’s lives, and he believes that those who own social media platforms have a role to play in ensuring that the truth is shared effectively.

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

Joe Skipper | Reuters

“When you do not have the reliable leaders who talk about vaccines, it is quite difficult for the platform to work against it,” he admitted. “So I think we have a leadership problem and we have a platform problem.”

“The way you get these platforms to spread truth and not crazy things, it’s a real invention required there,” Gates said.

“There’s a big problem when it comes to the legitimacy of elections or medical innovations … any kind of collective behavior,” he added.

The fact that information about the effectiveness of drugs can move quickly and cheaply should be a boon to humanity, Gates said, before continuing to call the hydroxychloroquine saga “madness.”

“I can not explain it,” he said. “I do not think digital is responsible for the obsession with drugs that do not work.”

Gates said he plans to set up a 3,000-person social media unit to help spread accurate vaccine information in the future. He stressed that “good news” must be passed on by people with confidence in society, such as political and ethnic leaders.

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