Bill Gates warns Elon Musk could hurt free speech on Twitter and calls meeting Epstein a ‘mistake’

Microsoft also reveals anti-vaxxers shout at him in the street and admits meeting Jeffrey Epstein was ‘mistake’

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 05 May 2022 14:07 BST
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned Elon Musk could make freedom of speech worse on Twitter after takeover
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned Elon Musk could make freedom of speech worse on Twitter after takeover (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
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Bill Gates has warned Elon Musk could make freedom of speech worse on Twitter after his $44billion takeover bid was accepted.

In a series of interviews, the Microsoft founder admitting he ‘made a mistake’ meeting paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and denied ‘crazy’ claims he tracked people via Covid vaccines.

Mr Musk has pledged to support free speech and “defeat the spam bots” on the site, which he refers to as the digital town square. But Mr Gates said the Tesla boss could make misinformation on the platform worse.

He told The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit: “He actually could make it worse. That’s not his track record. His track record with Tesla and Space X is pretty mind-blowing at putting together a great team of engineers and taking people who work in those fields in a less bold way and really showing them up.

“I kind of doubt that’ll happen this time but we should have an open mind and never underestimate Elon.”

He added: “What’s his goal? Where he talks about the openness, how does he feel about something that says ‘vaccines kill people’ or ‘Bill Gates is tracking people’ – is that one of the things he thinks should be spread?”

It is unclear how Mr Musk will change the popular social media service to give users more power when it comes to freedom of speech, but the billionaire has vowed to make Twitter the digital town square while ensuring it “matches the law”.

Reacting following the announcement of his takeover, Mr Musk tweeted: “The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.”

However, within two hours, he tweeted a clarification of his post, saying: “By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.”

Tesla boss Elon Musk has pledged to support free speech and ‘defeat the spam bots’ after Twitter takeover (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

In a company statement announcing the deal on 25 April, he added: “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.”

Last week Mr Musk accused Mr Gates of “shorting” Tesla stock – which involves an investor anticipating a stock price will decrease, in this case essentially betting against Tesla stock.

The Space X boss has also tweeted insults towards Mr Gates on Twitter, including one poking fun at his weight.

Mr Gates refused to say whether or not he personally shorted Tesla, adding that climate change was a focus of the Gates Foundation. He also said the insults did not bother him.

“It’s possible the stock went down and whoever shorted the stock made money, I don’t know,” he said.

He added: “I don’t think whether one’s short or long Tesla is a statement about your seriousness about climate change. I applaud Tesla’s role in helping with climate change.

“I have nothing but positive things to say about Elon, if he makes Twitter worse, fine, I’ll speak out about that, but I wouldn’t assume that’s what’s going to happen.”

Gates discussed having meetings with Jeffrey Epstein (New York State Division of Criminal Justice/EPA)

In a separate interview, Mr Gates spoke to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about anti-vaxxers and billionaire convicted sex offender Epstein.

Vaccine misinformation spread on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic claiming Mr Gates, who has long been an advocate of inoculations, was trying to track people by using jabs to implant 5G chips into them.

“In some ways, you almost have to laugh because it’s so crazy,” he told the BBC.

“I mean, do I really want to track people? You know, I spend billions on vaccines, I don’t make money on vaccines, vaccines save lives.”

Mr Gates revealed he had been shouted at by conspiracy theorists in the street.

“Only recently I’ve been out in public, [and] some people yell at me that I’m tracking them. And that, that’s an awful thing,” he said.

Mr Gates previously admitted he made a “huge mistake” attending fundraising meetings with the late Epstein.

In March, his wife Melinda Gates, whom he is divorcing, said she questioned why he had held meetings with the disgraced financier.

Asked about the meetings, Mr Gates told the BBC: “I made a mistake ever meeting with Jeffrey Epstein. You know, maybe her [Melinda’s] instincts on that were keener than mine.

“Any meeting I had with him could be viewed as almost condoning his evil behaviour. So, that was a mistake.”

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