Elon Musk abandoned the customary political neutrality of social media bosses on Monday, urging a Republican victory in Tuesday's midterm elections. In a tweet addressed to "independent-minded voters," Twitter's new owner wrote, "Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic." When executives from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have been questioned in congressional hearings about their sites influencing politics, they've avoided expressing their own party or candidate preferences, the Washington Post reports. It's not the first such norm Musk, who has 115 million followers on Twitter, has broken.
In April, Musk seemed to warn against posts like his. "For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral," he tweeted then, the Daily Beast points out. Earlier Monday, Musk received online criticism after tweeting a 1940 photo of a Nazi soldier with carrier pigeons and the caption "How times have changed" in an apparent joke, per Yahoo Entertainment. One reply said, ”It's easy to read this as 'Elon Musk keeps posting Nazis,'" but it might be that people are teeing up Nazi images, trying to get Musk to bite, and "succeeding because he's easily manipulated," adding, "Seems worse!" The photo is on the Getty Images site, which offers a caution: "Images depicting historical events may contain themes, or have descriptions, that do not reflect current understanding." (Read more Elon Musk stories.)