Elon Musk tweeted a link to an unfounded rumor about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband on Sunday, just days after Musk’s Twitter purchase fueled fears that the media platform no longer seeks to limit misinformation and hate speech.
Musk’s tweet, which he later deleted, linked to an article from a fringe website, the Santa Monica Observer, a media outlet that previously claimed Hillary Clinton died on 9/11 and was replaced by a doppleganger.
In this case, the article recycled an unsubstantiated claim that the personal life of Paul Pelosi, the speaker’s husband, somehow played a part in the attack on an intruder last week at the house. of the couple in San Francisco, although there is no evidence to support this claim.
Musk did this in response to a tweet from Hillary Clinton. His tweet had criticized Republicans for generally spreading “deranged hate and conspiracy theories” and said: “Shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result.”
In response to Clinton’s tweet, Musk provided a link to the Santa Monica Observer article and added, “There is a slight possibility that there is more to this story than meets the eye.”
The Los Angeles Times, the dominant news agency in the Southern California region where the Observer is located, said the Observer was “notorious for fake news.”
Police in San Francisco the suspect in last week’s attack saididentified as David DePape, 42, broke into the Pelosi family’s Pacific Heights home early Friday and confronted Paul Pelosi, demanding to know, as the AP reported, “Where’s Nancy?”
The pair fought over a hammer before officers responding to a 911 call to the home saw DePape punch Paul Pelosi at least once, police said. DePape was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary. Prosecutors plan to file charges on Monday and expect him to be arraigned on Tuesday.
Police say the attack was “intentional” and not random, but have not publicly stated what they believe to be the motive.
The exchange between Musk and Clinton came a day after Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity, tweeted that company policies against “insults” and “hate conduct” were still in place.
“Bottom: Twitter policies have not changed. Hateful conduct has no place here,” Roth wrote.
Shortly after Musk took over Twitter, some accounts on the platform started tweeting messages ranging from racial slurs to political misinformationlike “Trump won”, to see what Twitter will tolerate from now on.
musk itself said on Friday it would form a “content moderation board” for Twitter and promised advertisers that the website would not turn into a “free-for-all hellscape”. Musk has also described himself as a “free speech absolutist.”
But at least one major advertiser, General Motors, has said it will pause advertising on Twitter while it monitors the direction of the platform under Musk.
Also on Sunday, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show that she doesn’t trust Musk to handle Twitter.
Referring to anti-Semitic attacks and the QAnon conspiracy theory which were advanced online by DePape, the suspect in the attack, Klobuchar said, “I think you need to have content moderation.”
“If Elon Musk said now that he was going to create a content moderation council,” the senator said, “that was a good sign. But I keep worrying about it. I just don’t think that people should make money by passing on this stuff which is a bunch of lies.
Christopher Rugaber, Associated Press