One of the key questions around Elon Musk’s whole ‘free-speech’ approach was: ‘What will Elon do when government requests come from regions where Musk’s other business, Tesla, has a vested interest?’

For example, Tesla is heavily reliant on China for sales and parts manufacturing, while it’s also looking to expand its presence in India and Turkey. The governments in these regions have regularly sought to restrict speech on Twitter and in other forms, which has already put them at odds with social platform management before.

How then has Twitter 2.0 handled the same?


As it turns out, Musk opted to comply with pretty much every government request, with a recent report showing that Twitter is now complying with such at a much higher rate than with its previous management. As El Pais reports:

“Since Musk’s takeover, the company has received 971 requests from governments (compared to only 338 in the six-month period from October 2021 to April 2022), fully acceding to 808 of them and partially acceding to 154. In the year prior to Musk taking control, Twitter agreed to 50% of such requests, in line with the compliance rate indicated in the company’s last transparency report (none have been published since October 2022). Following the change of ownership, that figure has risen to 83%.”

Musk, in reply, said that Twitter ‘had no choice’ but to comply, as these requests are governed by regional laws, and that Twitter will always seek to align with local laws.

As noted, Twitter has held firm on such requests in the past. Last June, for example, the Indian Government called on Twitter to ban various Pakistani-linked profiles due to government dissent. Long story short, Twitter challenged said bans which put it at risk of getting banned itself – something that’s been held over Twitter various times in the past. Twitter was briefly banned in Turkey in 2014 for the same reason, which has since seen the Turkish Government implement new laws on what social platforms can and cannot publish.

So while Musk’s right that Twitter is aligning with local authorities, it does have the capacity to take a stronger stance on such, especially where such requests are in opposition to local laws, which some of these more recent requests have reportedly been. Granted, Twitter doesn’t have to fight every case that comes up, but its broad compliance does seem to conflict with his own broader push for free and open speech – especially when you also consider that Musk has been highly critical of past Twitter management for supposedly working with US authorities to mitigate the spread of misinformation, which he’s deemed as an act of censorship. Worth noting too that Musk has also overseen the removal of past restrictions on Chinese and Russian state media accounts.

The Wrap

Musk’s view is that he’ll align with the government of the day, adhering to requests as they’re submitted, though we do wonder whether he would feel the same if, for example, the US Government were to submit something similar, and how much that would change his perspective. Either way, it’s a challenging element, which Musk, or any leader, will always face difficulties in managing. Right now at least, Musk’s approach seems to be approving more government censorship requests, as opposed to pushing back.