White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter on Monday by reiterating President Biden's continued support for "fundamental reforms" aimed at combating the spread of "misinformation" on social media platforms.
The remarks appeared to foreshadow a potential future fight between the Biden administration and Twitter over content censorship practices.
Musk — a tech billionaire and free speech advocate — finalized a buyout of the platform on Monday following weeks of negotiations. He immediately emphasized that his goal in purchasing the company is to return it to free speech principles and end the blatant ideological censorship that has become prevalent on the platform.
Though Psaki refused to respond specifically to Musk's acquisition of Twitter, her overarching comments made the administration's feelings clear; that is, officials are not at all happy at the notion that Twitter will be run in an unbiased way.
"What I can tell you as a general matter, no matter who owns or runs Twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms, what they ... the power they have over our everyday lives, has long argued that tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause," Psaki said during Monday's press briefing.
"He has been a strong supporter of fundamental reforms to achieve that goal, including reforms to Section 230, enacting antitrust reforms, requiring more transparency, and more, and he’s encouraged that there’s bipartisan interest in Congress," she continued. "In terms of what hypothetical policies might happen, I’m just not going to speak to that at this point in time."
Later, when pressed again on the White House's reaction to the acquisition, Psaki lent credence to concerns that "misinformation" will now run rampant on the platform and once again expressed that President Biden is open to making changes.
"I would say that our concerns are not new," Psaki said. "We’ve long talked about, and the president has long talked about, his concerns about the power of social platforms — including Twitter and others — to spread misinformation, disinformation, the need for these platforms be held accountable."
News of Musk's purchase of Twitter caused a widespread meltdown among liberals in the U.S., many of whom vowed to leave the platform as a result.
Twitter employees, too, went "absolutely insane" over the news, according to a report, as internal channels ran amok with outrage and panic.
"I feel like I'm going to throw up ... I [really] don’t wanna work for a company that is owned by Elon Musk," one Twitter employee reportedly told a New York Times reporter.
In a statement after his purchase, Musk said, "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."
"I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans," he added. "Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."