Twitter owner Elon Musk said on Saturday he thought it was “possible” that personnel at the social media firm gave preference to left-wing candidates during Brazil’s election this year, without providing evidence. Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter on October 27, just days before Brazil’s presidential second-round runoff vote, when far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro was defeated by leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
“I’ve seen a lot of concerning tweets about the recent Brazil election,” Musk wrote on Twitter when asked by a user about elections possibly “handled” by the company’s previous management.
“If those tweets are accurate, it’s possible that Twitter personnel gave preference to left wing candidates,” added the billionaire.
Bolsonaro earlier this year hosted Musk at a meeting in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, when he called the US billionaire’s takeover of Twitter a “breath of hope” and dubbed him a “legend of liberty”.
Both Lula and Bolsonaro widely used Twitter during their campaigns. Some Bolsonaro allies – including the most-voted candidate for the lower house of Congress, Nikolas Ferreira – had their accounts suspended by court orders after the second round for questioning the election results.
Last month, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth said the social media company was not safer under new owner Elon Musk, warning in his first interview since resigning this month that the company no longer had enough staff for safety work.
Roth had previously tweeted after Musk’s takeover that by some measures, Twitter safety had improved under the billionaire’s ownership. Asked in an interview at the Knight Foundation conference in November whether he still felt that way, Roth said: “No.”
Roth was a Twitter veteran who helped steer the social media platform through several watershed decisions, including the move to permanently suspend its most famous user, former US President Donald Trump, last year.
His departure further rattled advertisers, many of whom backed away from Twitter after Musk laid off half of the staff, including many involved with content moderation.
Before Musk assumed the helm at Twitter, about 2,200 people globally were focused on content moderation work, said Roth. He said he did not know the number after the acquisition because the corporate directory had been turned off.
© Thomson Reuters 2022