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Treasury Sec. Yellen bizarrely says Musk’s Twitter content needs to be under ‘control’

Janet Yellen (Mark Warner/WikiCommons)
December 04, 2022

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Twitter’s content moderation should be held to certain standards as its new owner Elon Musk launches a new feud with Apple over issues of “free speech.”

Musk went on a tweetstorm against Apple on Monday, alleging that the tech giant had slashed its ad spending and threatened to delist Twitter from its App Store after Musk’s buyout. In one tweet, the billionaire asked, “Do they hate free speech in America?”

Two days later at an event hosted by the New York Times, Yellen branched out from her role as the country’s chief financial officer to offer her own take, according to Reuters.

“I think it’s a good thing, if Apple is looking at the content,” she said. “Most broadcast stations are subjected to standards in terms of what they broadcast to the public. And Twitter’s not really that different than other broadcast stations.”

It isn’t clear what led to her remark. But Reuters reported that when she was asked if it was good that companies like Apple and Google can make content demands, she said, “It’s a kind of control that I think is needed.”

While the U.S. Treasury may not seem relevant to social media content moderation, Yellen’s role does overlap with ongoing Twitter intrigue in a crucial way. 

Recent reporting has indicated the Biden administration wants to review Musk’s foreign business deals for national security threats. As leader of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, Yellen is poised to spearhead those investigations.

Asked about that possibility Wednesday, Yellen said she’s “not going to say specifically what we are or aren’t looking at. … But if there are such risks, it would be appropriate for CFIUS to have a look.” That’s a reversal of comments she made earlier this month that there’s “no basis” for a review of Musk’s Twitter acquisition.

Foreign investors in Musk’s $44 billion Twitter acquisition include Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who gave $1.89 million, and Qatar Holding, an investment firm founded by the gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, which gave $375 million.