Elon Musk has been invited to speak to MPs about his proposed acquisition of Twitter.
The chair of a parliamentary committee which scrutinises the government’s legislation around social media has written to the billionaire at his Tesla headquarters to say MPs are “interested in the developments you propose”.
While Twitter’s board has given its approval to the deal, the reaction from Twitter users has been mixed, and the deal still needs the go-ahead from shareholders and regulators.
Analysts have also expressed concern that taking over Twitter could mean Mr Musk spends less time on Tesla, the electric car company of which he is chief executive.
Julian Knight MP, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, said MPs were particularly interested in Mr Musk’s “intention to roll out verification for all users” which “echoes our calls on the UK government”.
Mr Musk, the richest man in the world by net worth, has frequently expressed concerns that Twitter’s control of free speech goes too far – despite it being one of the least policed social media platforms.
He has also promised to make Twitter’s algorithms public so users can see how content is promoted or demoted, and rid the platform of spam bots that interfere with the user experience.
So far, the question of whether Donald Trump, and others who have been banned or suspended from the site, will be allowed back has gone unanswered, both by Mr Musk and by Twitter executives.
MPs call for balance on civil liberties
Explaining his interest in purchasing the platform, Mr Musk said: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.
“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.
“Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” he wrote.
Mr Knight recognised these comments and said the committee was interested in finding a balance between civil liberties and tackling “pernicious, pervasive online child sexual exploitation and abuse”.
“I know you have expressed your wish that critics remain on Twitter and this may present an opportunity to address any critiques in public,” the letter adds.
Mr Musk has not yet responded.
The committee has historically not had much success in summoning the chief executives of US companies to appear before it.
The previous chair, Damian Collins MP, repeatedly called for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to personally testify as part of an inquiry into disinformation.
Mr Zuckerberg simply declined, instead appearing before European and American hearings.