Stung by tech tycoon Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter, the social media giant’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, reportedly had an emotional moment during a meeting with the legal and policy teams she oversees. As the news of her sobbing at the meeting was confirmed, Gadde’s new boss, Musk, targeted the lawyer over censoring exclusive stories related to US President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, on his laptop.
Musk wrote slamming the Indian-origin lawyer’s key move in the run up to the 2020 US presidential elections, where she suspended the account of the New York Post over an exclusive article about Hunter Biden’s laptop that has since been verified by many outlets that had initially dismissed the report as misinformation.
Musk, 50, was replying to podcast host Saagar Enjeti, who shared a Politico report about Gadde’s reported tearful virtual meeting with her teams after the Tesla CEO, a self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist," took over the company’s reins after a $44 billion deal.
Enjeti tweeted that "Vijaya Gadde, the top censorship advocate at Twitter who famously gaslit the world on Joe Rogan's podcast and censored the Hunter Biden laptop story, is very upset about the Elon Musk takeover."
Gadde, 48, has been at Twitter since 2011 and handles safety, legal issues, and sensitive matters for the influential company. She has been the trailblazer behind several key decisions at the company, including the suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account in the wake of the Capitol Hill violence – a move that earned her fans and critics alike. She was also behind the major decision to scrap all political advertising from the platform.
With Musk at the helm now, Gadde was uncertain about what the company would look like, Politico reported the lawyer as saying at the meeting with employees. She, however, encouraged everyone to do good work at the company and added that she took pride in the work they have done so far.
The major reason for the apprehensions over Musk’s takeover is no secret. The world’s richest man has long advocated for free speech on Twitter and has asked that the website’s algorithm be open-source. He wants to remove all spam bots from the platform and, most importantly, make elaborate changes to the content moderation policies of the website.
For years, Twitter has advocated that the microblogging site be hate-speech free, and threatening content has often been censored. Axing accounts of even key figures like that of Donald Trump, who had 89 million followers, was also on the table if the policies were violated.
Musk, however, has suggested several times that Twitter should remove content only if it is required by law. That has been fiercely opposed by many who say that hate speech will now be on the rise on the hugely popular site.
Many said they will now be leaving Twitter as Elon Musk takes over, as they fear the site without regulations will be a dangerous place, prompting the billionaire to explain what he means by "free speech".
"The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all. By "free speech," I simply mean that which matches the law. I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people, "Musk explained in a tweet to his 85.9 million followers and pinned it to his profile.
A day earlier, he tweeted: "I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means."
It remains to be seen whether Gadde will still hold her position at the company, as she and her new boss seem to be at odds when it comes to the key policies about safety and content moderation.