Bill Gates said Wednesday that it’s unclear if his rival Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter takeover will result in positive change, saying it actually could make the social media app’s problems worse when it comes to misinformation.
Gates, who recently endured a barrage of mockery from Musk on Twitter after it was revealed that he is shorting Tesla’s stock, weighed in on the deal during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit.
“He actually could make it worse,” Gates said at the event. “That’s not his track record – his track record with Tesla and SpaceX is pretty mind-blowing with putting together a great team of engineers and taking the people who worked in those fields in a less bold way and really showing them up.”
“I kind of doubt that will happen this time, but we should have an open mind and never underestimate Elon,” Gates 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?”
Musk has pledged to alter the strict content moderation policies implemented under Twitter’s current leadership to re-emphasize free speech on the platform. Critics of the Tesla CEO have pointed to his often-confrontational Twitter presences as proof that he will allow more abusive and harmful content to circulate.
Gates has previously expressed “surprise” regarding conspiracy theories about him that have circulated on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Musk and Gates were at odds with each other as recently as last month. A newly surfaced text message exchange between the two tech billionaires revealed Musk confronted Gates for not closing out a $500 million short position on Tesla.
“Sorry, but I cannot take your philanthropy on climate change seriously when you have a massive short position against Tesla, the company doing the most to solve climate change,” Musk texted Gates.
When asked about the tweets, Gates downplayed the dispute – telling the event’s host that it “doesn’t bother” him.
“I don’t think whether one is short or long on Tesla is a statement about your seriousness about climate change. I’m putting billions of dollars into climate change innovation. I applaud Tesla’s role in helping with climate change,” Gates said.
“And 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.”