Three days after Elon Musk purchased Twitter, the billionaire posted a tweet that advanced baseless allegations about the recent attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The tweet, on Sunday, raised anew questions about how, or if, Mr. Musk will act to combat misinformation and hate speech on the social media site.
On Saturday, Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, posted a tweet assailing Republicans for spreading “hate and deranged conspiracy theories” that she said had emboldened the man who attacked Ms. Pelosi’s husband, Paul, inside the couple’s home in San Francisco early Friday.
In a reply to Mrs. Clinton’s tweet, Mr. Musk wrote, “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye” and then shared a link to an article in the Santa Monica Observer. The article alleges that Mr. Pelosi was drunk and in a fight with a male prostitute.
A 2021 editorial in The Los Angeles Times about websites that “masquerade as legitimate local newspapers” noted that the Santa Monica Observer, “owned by onetime City Council candidate David Ganezer, is notorious for publishing false news.” In 2016, for example, the publication advanced a claim that Mrs. Clinton had died and that a body double was sent to debate the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump.
The police have said that Mr. Pelosi, 82, was attacked with a hammer inside his home by a man, David DePape, who had entered through the back door. The police have said that when they arrived at the home, they found the two men wrestling for control of a hammer. The authorities have said that Mr. DePape, 42, would probably face several charges, including attempted homicide and assault with a deadly weapon. At one point, Mr. DePape is said to have shouted, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?”
The tweet from Mr. Musk on Sunday came on the heels of his vow in an open letter to advertisers that Twitter would not become a freewheeling site that allowed entirely unfettered commentary.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences,” he wrote. “Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world.”
Mr. Musk’s purchase of Twitter for $44 billion was completed on Thursday, the same day he fired several of the company’s top leaders, including the chief executive Parag Agrawal.
Ahead of the possibility of sweeping changes at the platform, like reinstating the account of Mr. Trump, who was barred from the site after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Musk has said he would create a content moderation council.
“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” he wrote.