Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for new “rules” to govern “unregulated” social media amid Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s takeover of largely liberal Twitter.
During an appearance Wednesday on MSNBC’s “The Beat With Ari Melber,” Warren declared that “rules of the road” were needed for Big Tech, and that decisions about large communications platforms needed to be made “as a democracy,” rather than someone like Musk, who she claimed “plays by his own set of rules.”
Then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a town hall meeting at Grinnell College, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Grinnell, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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“I see that we need to make two big changes. The first one is we need a wealth tax in America. And let’s talk about how Elon’s purchase here was subsidized by tens of millions of people who’ve paid their taxes every year,” Warren told host Ari Melber, referencing her past claim that Musk didn’t pay taxes.
“The second part is we need rules of the road for Big Tech. But ultimately what all of this boils down to is power,” she added. “Who’s going to have the power in our country? Are we going to make these decisions as a democracy, or is this going to be Elon Musk all by himself, off in a room, a bazillionaire, who just plays by his own set of rules?”
Warren argued that large platforms like Twitter create “platform effects” that “lock people in,” and complained that people weren’t able to use other platforms to communicate with Twitter users instead of being forced to also have a Twitter account.
“So one of the things we need is we need rules so that you can leave the Twitter platform and go to a competitor’s platform and still be able to reach each other,” Warren said, arguing that it would create more competition for platforms.
“Right now what we’ve got in tech is we don’t have that kind of competition. Rules of the road could help facilitate that kind of competition and, frankly, break the stranglehold of someone like Elon Musk coming in and just owning the whole thing,” she added.
Elon Musk gestures during a conversation with legendary game designer Todd Howard (not pictured) at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019.
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She later claimed the problem with Musk owning Twitter was “one of power” and about one person being able to make all of the decisions that affect millions of a platform’s users.
Melber noted the U.S. operated on a free market, and that Musk could make Twitter a private company if he wished before asking Warren for her thoughts.
Warren avoided directly answering the question, and instead said, “This is not like buying some company that produces cars or some company that produces soap. This is about buying a platform for communication among millions of people.”
“The tech platforms have created something that is different, and right now it is just basically unregulated. It’s just out there for Elon Musk to make up the rules, and that’s why it is that we need to step in and say platforms like this need rules of the road on communication and so that there will be competition with other platforms.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as "Senator Karen" in a December 14, 2021 tweet after she accused him of not paying taxes. (Screenshot/Twitter)
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Warren has ramped up her criticism of Musk following news of his intent to purchase Twitter earlier this month.
The two feuded last year, with Warren accusing of Musk of failing to pay taxes and “freeloading off everyone else” by taking advantage of a “rigged tax code.” Musk responded by calling Warren “Senator Karen.”
“You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason,” he wrote on Twitter. “Please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen.”
Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_cg.