Bill Gates might still be sore from Elon Musk’s Twitter meme-ing (one of which mocked the Microsoft founder in one memorable, if digitally altered, image) because he shared some fighting words Thursday while speaking during a Wall Street Journal conference on Wednesday.
Speaking at the WSJ’s CEO Summit Wednesday, Gates told the audience that, from his vantage point, it’s unclear how Musk will change Twitter if and when he takes ownership. Gates also mentioned the possibility that a Musk-owned Twitter could play a greater role in spreading disinformation.
Still, Gates couldn’t help but offer a few back-handed compliments to Musk (who recently leaked a series of texts with the billionaire showing him mocking Gates over his short position in Tesla). And while Gates said he “kind of doubt[s]” that Musk would achieve the same level of success with Twitter, “we should never underestimate Elon”.
Notably, Gates addressed Musk’s “insults” (which CNBC amusingly refused to reprint), saying they don’t bother him. He also questioned Musk’s intentions behind his pro-free speech stance.
“How does he feel about something [on Twitter] that says ‘vaccines kill people’ or that ‘Bill Gates is tracking people?'” Gates asked.
“What are his goals for what it ends up being? Does that match this idea of less extreme falsehoods spreading so quickly [and] weird conspiracy theories? Does he share that goal or not?” Gates said.
Expounding on the subject of vaccine misinformation, Gates claimed that it would be difficult for Twitter to do an effective job of excising misinformation (keep in mind: Gates is talking about misinformation that mostly has a direct impact on him) with the leadership having espoused such a radical stance.
“When you don’t have the trusted leaders speaking out about vaccines, it’s pretty hard for the platform to work against that,” he admitted. “So I think we have a leadership problem and we have a platform problem.”
Keep in mind: Musk recently succeeded Gates as the world’s richest man.