President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has criticized the takeover of Twitter by a billionaire - but stopped short of naming Elon Musk.
“Is it a great success that a multi-billionaire would be now deciding what is appropriate for people to exchange by way of discourse?" President Higgins said during a conference at Dublin City University.
“I think it can hardly be described as anything other than a manifestation of an incredible and dangerous narcissism.”
President Higgins was met with a round of applause for his comments.
President Michael D Higgins has described the purchase of Twitter by tech billionaire Elon Musk as a 'manifestation of an incredible and dangerous narcissism' | Read more: https://t.co/UcW55R2V7G pic.twitter.com/5b9CZCjL3E— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 5, 2022
The President was speaking at Dublin City University's Centre for Climate & Society's inaugural conference on Climate Action. The conference focused in part on how the media can respond to climate challenges and in his remarks, Higgins focused on the role of education, finance, and other sectors in Irish society in the country's transition to a sustainable way of life.
On April 25, Twitter confirmed it had entered into an agreement with Elon Musk to be acquired for approximately $44 billion. Upon completion of the transaction, Twitter will become a privately held company.
Musk, the world's richest man, has expressed his desire to loosen content moderation rules, which has sparked concerns amongst workers at Twitter in Ireland. Twitter employs more than 500 people at its European Headquarters in Dublin, RTÉ reports.
One senior figure at Twitter told the Irish Independent that they wouldn't be surprised if Musk's takeover sparked an "exodus" of employees.
"The idea that we need less content moderation is crazy," the source said.
Elsewhere, Professor Jane Suiter, director of the DCU Institute for Media, Democracy, and Society, expressed her concerns about Musk's potential changes to the social media platform.
Suiter told Newstalk: "I would be concerned that I would just see an awful lot more really unpleasant content that would actually just make my day more unpleasant."
She added: "I'd be worried from a democratic point of view that it will really incentivise actors, who want to trigger people's negative emotions, to really incentivise the rise of the far-right, alt-right, and the QAnon-type narratives that we see.
"At the moment in Ireland these are mostly on spaces like Telegram - I'd be worried that they'd come into more mainstream spaces".
More recently, Forbes reported that Twitter said in its SEC report this week that Musk’s takeover might cost the company advertisers, staff, and users regardless of the outcome of the takeover — if it reaches a final conclusion or if it somehow fails along the way.
“The announcement and pendency of our agreement to be acquired by affiliates of Elon Musk may have an adverse effect on our business results, and a failure to complete the merger could have a material and adverse effect on our business, results of operation, financial condition, cash flows, and stock price,” Twitter wrote.