- Social media users in China are praising Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter as a move in the “spirit of freedom”.
- Others say capitalism has allowed a wealthy billionaire like Musk to gain unprecedented control of the media.
- China’s social media is heavily moderated and censored, and often described as a propaganda tool.
Users of China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo expressed mixed feelings about Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter.
Reactions to the news were mainly divided into two camps: one praising the takeover as a step forward for free speech, and the other describing it as an example of how Western capitalism allows the rich to control too much, echoing the rhetoric. of Beijing that the US is a broken nation.
As of 2pm (Beijing Time) on Tuesday, the topic of Musk’s deal had received over 130 million views.
“Spirit of freedom,” wrote one user in a comment with nearly 3,000 likes. Their comment came with a thumbs-up emoji.
“He just doesn’t want the Democratic Party to control all the media! The forces behind the Republican Party also want to control public opinion!” replied another user, who claimed to have six Twitter accounts that were banned.
While Musk has claimed he bought Twitter to protect free speech, Weibo heavily moderates and censors posts or comments that he deems inappropriate and has been labeled a propaganda tool for the Chinese government.
Another Weibo user expressed hope that Musk would eventually run for US president. “After all, he is young, innovative and not so old-fashioned. In these few years, American presidents have grown old,” they wrote.
Musk, a South African by birth, is not eligible for the post of US president.
Other social media users jumped on the billionaire’s Twitter purchase to mock the West and its ideologies for allowing a prominent billionaire like Musk to gain ownership of a major social media platform.
“As long as you have economic capital, you can control the President of the United States,” commented one user on a Weibo thread discussing how Musk’s control over Twitter could affect US politics.
“What does capitalism have to do with people’s freedom?” a user asked. “Money plus public opinion. Aren’t you invincible? You will rise,” wrote another.
Other users pointed out that Western whistleblowers like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden face charges in the US, a common talking point in Beijing used to amplify the idea that the US is hypocritical in its emphasis on free speech.
The irony has not gone unnoticed by some Weibo users. “Good fellows, aren’t you ashamed to say these things while you’re in China?” one of them wrote.