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Elon Musk’s free speech crusade targets Jack Dorsey’s Block

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) is paying legal fees for a free speech lawsuit against Jack Dorsey’s company, Block. The irony is immediately obvious to long-time users of X: Dorsey co-founded Twitter, sold it to Musk so that he could focus on Block, and now X is paying to litigate against a Block employee.

Specifically, Chloe Happe v. Block Inc., involves a former Block employee who alleges that she was fired from her job at the company for statements she made on pseudonymous X accounts. She claims her two accounts were satirical and that she made the comments during private, non-working hours.

Nevertheless, despite the non-work related nature of these social media posts, Musk’s X is corporately funding her lawsuit against Block.

Don’t like Twitter censorship? Just buy it

Musk’s complaints against Dorsey’s version of censorship at Twitter were so great that he decided to simply acquire the platform outright. In 2022, Musk acquired Dorsey’s company in a transaction involving a group of investors.

Musk had previously criticized Twitter’s handling of obvious criminal activity like child exploitation while Dorsey was in charge. He now leads the censorship policy with plenty of examples of personal, editorial intervention.

Before Musk purchased Twitter, he vindictively promised to release ‘Twitter files’ that, in his opinion, would prove that Dorsey allowed politically motivated and US government-supervised content moderation on the platform. Musk was personally involved in revealing those files.

At the time, Dorsey fired back, criticizing Musk’s decision not to release all of these files at once, and questioning why he was involved in editorial decisions and crafting news media, rather than operating a social media platform for user (not owner) generated content.

Read more: Twitter is collapsing — and it’s hilarious

Even Dorsey had initially supported Musk taking the company private. Later, however, Dorsey said Musk’s decision was a mistake. “It all went south,” Dorsey lamented.

A regulatory filing did reveal that Dorsey retained a $1 billion stake in Twitter after it went private, maybe giving him a legitimate reason to be irked with Musk. That stake has shrunk precipitously, with X’s valuation dropping over 70% as of one post-acquisition financing round. Via this equity stake, Musk has caused Dorsey to lose money directly.

Not all conflict — they’re billionaires, after all

It’s not that Musk and Dorsey couldn’t cooperate on some things. Indeed, they both backed the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund, for example, which helped Bitcoin developers successfully push back against Craig Wright’s torrent of lawsuits.

In another example, the two men had some back-and-forth over who actually controls so-called Web 3. Musk kidded about where he could find Web 3 — which barely exists. Dorsey cheekily agreed, placing it “between a and z,” a reference to venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). Both men have had historical conflicts with general partners at a16z. Mark Andreessen, for example, blocked Dorsey after several disagreements.

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