Elon Musk’s effort to buy Twitter for $44 million yielded fruit this week, and the Tesla head revealed plans to turn the company into a haven for “free speech.” The acquisition from the richest man in the world has been polarizing, with some high-profile figures weighing in.
Some stars vowed to leave the platform, believing Musk will lessen the current community guidelines, allowing hateful comments on their feeds. Some people, who have violated the community guidelines in the past, hope for a new opportunity on the app. But some are staying for a different reason.
High-profile users who are vowing to leave
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil, who has 1 million followers on Twitter, posted shortly after Musk’s acquisition of the company this week, saying it would be her last tweet.
“Ah he got twitter [sic]. I would like this to be my what lies here as my last tweet. Just really *any* excuse to show pics of Barold,” she wrote, sharing photos of herself and her dog. “I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny. Best of luck.”
Activist Shaun King left Twitter when Musk acquire the company, but hours later came back. His bio now reads: “I’m still here m*****f******.” Since rejoining the platform, King has used it to campaign against Musk, sharing past reports of racism and a toxic work environment at Tesla, one of Musk’s companies.
He also re-shared Musk’s tweet, in which Musk explains what he means by his “free speech” plans for Twitter. “I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people,” Musk wrote.
King replied: “This is EXACTLY what we expected. He intends to allow hate speech and white supremacy, which are legal in the United States, on the platform. He intends to allow misinformation and disinformation, which are legal, on the platform.”
Comic book writer Erik Larsen, who worked on The Amazing Spider-Man series in the 1990s, vowed early on in Musk’s acquisition process to delete his Twitter if the billionaire succeeded in buying the company. It appears Larsen has left the platform since the buy.
Wrestler Mick Foley has not left the platform yet, but on Monday, said he’d consider it. “I’ll be giving some serious thought to leaving @Twitter for good in the near future,” he wrote. “I do not have a good feeling about where this platform is heading.”
Activist and author Amy Siskind had a similar reaction to the acquisition. “I am sitting with my thoughts and watching, and haven’t decided if I am staying here. I have a huge philosophical issue knowing whatever content I provide here goes directly towards enriching one man, who I think is absolutely awful. Watching. His platform is hemorrhaging users,” she tweeted on Monday.
“I don’t view him as a mentally stable person,” she wrote in a subsequent tweet.
Stars returning to or staying on Twitter
Rapper Azealia Banks, who had been banned from Twitter, took to her Instagram to announce she’d be returning. She shared a screenshot of her new Twitter profile. On her Instagram stories, she asked Musk to “please don’t f*** this up.”
She has been suspended from Twitter multiple times, including permanently in 2020 for making transphobic comments. “Do you know how much money I’m not making because of that years-long Twitter ban?” she said, blaming Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey for making her lose out on money because she couldn’t get to her fan base.
Banks, who has talked about a feud with Musk in the past, also said she has to thank him for buying Twitter. “I actually got back on,” she said.
Ice Cube, who claimed he got “shadow banned,” a partial suspension during which an account exists but is not visible in search or feeds, rejoiced at the news. “Free at last! @elonmusk take off my shadow ban homie…” he tweeted.
Comedian Jessica Kirson joked about the news. “I’m staying on @Twitter and antidepressants,” she wrote in one tweet.
Star Trek star George Takei tweeted he was staying put on the site.
“I’m not going anywhere. Should this place become more toxic, I pledge to strive even harder to lift up reason, science, compassion and the rule of law. The struggle against fascism, misinformation, and hate requires tough fighters. I hope you stay in the fight, right beside me,” he said.
Fox New host Tucker Carlson was recently suspended for violating Twitter’s community guidelines. He rejoined the social media platform on Monday, writing, “We’re back.”
U.S. Army veteran David Weissman, who has nearly 340,000 followers, wrote several tweets criticizing Musk and his acquisition. “I still think Elon Musk owning Twitter is a bad idea. He will amplify racists, bigots, and misinformation. He is a bad-faith actor with his distorted views of free speech and censorship,” he said.
Still, Weissman, a writer for Occupy Democrats, grassroots political organization and news website supporting progressive Democrats, is not leaving Twitter. “I’m not leaving Twitter if Elon Musk buys Twitter. Who is with me?” he tweeted.
“If @elonmusk eventually buys Twitter, the best way to say fuck you to his propaganda is to stay on and [disprove] misinformation and call out the bullying, hatred, racism, and bigotry. We stay on and fight back,” he wrote on Monday.