Jeff Bezos is already testing Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech by trolling

Formerly the world’s richest person before Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk overtook him, Jeff Bezos shared a tweet analyzing China’s prospective role in both Tesla and Twitter in the wake of Musk’s Twitter buy-out.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos responded today to billionaire Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter, questioning the influence the Chinese government may or may not gain now as a result of Musk’s hostile takeover of the social media platform.

The world’s second richest man, formerly the richest before Tesla CEO and founder Musk overtook him, unleashed a series of tweets this morning that drew attention to Elon Musk’s company’s close ties with China, the world’s largest electric vehicle market and the first place where Tesla established an overseas factory.

Bezos retweeted New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe, who highlighted Tesla’s large market in China as well as the electric vehicle giant’s reliance on Chinese suppliers for EV batteries. The reporter then added that China’s Twitter prohibition since 2009 had previously ensured the Chinese government had virtually no control over the microblogging site, which may have just changed as a result of the upcoming ownership switch.

In his repost, Bezos answered to Forsyth’s comment with his own thoughts on potential conflicts of interest in the future: “Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?”

Bezos’ jab at Twitter being a town square potentially open to unwarranted influence is a response to Musk’s own comments shortly after the deal was completed. “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,” Musk said earlier in the day.

Though he raised a sensitive subject, Bezos also expressed skepticism in the comments about his own question, as he wondered the role China will have to play in both Tesla and Twitter. “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 at Twitter,”  said the world’s second-richest man.

“But we’ll see. Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity,” said Bezos, a brief nod to Musk, with whom he has a legendary public Twitter battle. The Musk-Bezos feud is notable for Musk’s cheeky tweet of a ‘second place’ medal in response to Bezos after the Amazon CEO hailed his company’s global success.

Musk’s acquisition of Twitter will give him personal control of one of the world’s most powerful social media networks. After Musk threatened to buy the company multiple times and then made Twitter an offer they couldn’t refuse, CEO Parag Agrawal admitted in a CNBC interview that the chain of events essentially forced their “back against the wall,” forcing them to “come to the negotiation table.”

After the Twitter board approved the acquisition, Parag Agrawal reminded his staff that the social media company’s future is uncertain and that he does not know which route the platform would go.

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