Twitter chief Elon Musk hasn’t tweeted since arriving in China for his first visit since the pandemic. Up till the early hours of May 30, Musk had tweeted every single day in 2023 — often multiple times.
His silence in China marks the billionaire’s longest hiatus from the platform since June 2022, when he was in the midst of buying Twitter and taking it private. Many foreign social media platforms are banned in China, including Twitter and Facebook, although they are widely accessed over virtual private networks, or VPNs.
Musk, who also runs Tesla Inc., met with Chinese government officials and local business leaders during his visit and said the interests of China and the US were intertwined. He said that Tesla opposed decoupling from China as it was willing to keep expanding in the country, according to a government statement.
It’s possible to visit banned social media and news sites over VPNs, a tool that allows users to bypass China’s censorship machinery by creating a secure and encrypted connection. The personal use of VPNs is illegal in the country but enforcement is uneven and many in China continue to use the service.
The uncharacteristic silence has some Twitter users wondering if Musk hasn’t been able to set up a VPN or that he didn’t feel it was appropriate. However, the billionaire has had a busy itinerary, including meeting the staff at Tesla’s Shanghai plant late Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, the microblogging platform is testing a new feature on Community Notes for media to identify misleading media as AI-generated images and videos have become more prominent on the platform.
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Musk’s private jet departs Shanghai
Musk’s private jet has departed Shanghai, wrapping up his first visit to China. His visit started Tuesday in Beijing, where he met Foreign Minister Qin Gang and emphasised the importance of maintaining ties with China. He also met with the president of battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., Yuqun Zeng on Tuesday, according to photos posted on social media.
On Wednesday, Musk met Jin Zhuanglong, China’s minister for industry and information technology, and visited the Ministry of Commerce, accompanied by Tom Zhu, Tesla’s senior vice president of automotive, and Grace Tao, Tesla’s vice president in charge of government and public affairs in Greater China. He then flew to Shanghai and visited the Tesla plant.