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Billionaire Mark Cuban Challenges Elon Musk

The star of the hit TV show "Shark Tank" is closely monitoring the changes on Twitter by the CEO of Tesla.
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Mark Cuban and Elon Musk are two of the most popular billionaires. 

Their success in business has made them stars, adored by many entrepreneurs and investors who hope to copy their respective recipes for success.

The Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise owner is disrupting the pharmaceutical industry with Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug, the only company which bears his name in more than a dozen companies he founded. The firm "fills and delivers prescriptions at cost plus a fixed 15% margin."

Musk, for his part, has changed the way consumers perceive the automobile. Considered one of the most polluting industries a decade ago, the automotive sector is one of those leading the charge today for the reduction of CO2 emissions, with the development by almost every car manufacturer of electric or hybrid models. The architect of this revolution is Musk, who, for many years, with his company Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report, was the only one to insist that the future lies with electric vehicles.

The two billionaires, who are also both crypto evangelists, are used to being in the spotlight. Cuban became one of the stars of the hit show "Shark Tank," enabling entrepreneurs to meet investors. 

Musk has occupied, for several months, the top of the poster of the business circles. He is everywhere. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the aerospace company, has become a global boss, a kind of everything CEO.

His influence grew even further after his acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion on Oct. 27. This has made him the subject of many conversations since the platform is considered the town square of our time. 

This special place occupied by Twitter in the collective imagery also comes with responsibilities, particularly for which posts are acceptable on the platform. The pre-Musk Twitter had safeguards in place against hate speech, racist and anti-Semitic messages as well as misinformation. The question was what would the billionaire, who describes himself as a "free speech absolutist," do.

Like millions of people and many advertisers, Cuban, who does not hide his admiration for Musk, follows closely the developments on the content management policy envisioned by Musk. The latter began by stalling, surprised to see that advertisers paused their ads over concerns over the policy, while he advocated that free speech should have no limits.

"The greatest challenge Twitter has is making users feel safe," Cuban commented on Nov. 20, a day after Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump's Twitter account. "Safe that they won't be abused by users on the platform. Safe that tweets won't lead to action off the platform that hurt people. I think this is the element that @elonmusk is missing that current AI can't protect."

He added that: "Like all entrepreneurs, the vision when you start, rarely is the place you end up. It's a learning, iterative process. It's only been a few weeks. @elonmusk is smart and been here before. I'm cautiously optimistic he figures it out and the platform is safe and sustainable."

A few days after this constructive criticism, Musk declared war on Apple  (AAPL) - Get Free Report, which he accused of sanctioning free speech, because the iPhone maker allegedly threatened to no longer distribute the Twitter app via the Appstore.

Musk's statement about threats from Apple came after the billionaire reactivated former President Donald Trump's account, accounts known for anti-transgender rhetoric and announced, in the name of free speech, an amnesty for all banned accounts, which suggested that the platform was in danger of turning into the "hellscape" that advertisers feared, with a major financial risk for Twitter.

"A revolution against online censorship in America," the billionaire said on Nov. 28, commenting on a meme showing Apple CEO Cook.

Without going so far as to criticize Musk for accusing Apple of sanctioning free speech because the company might decide to no longer distribute Twitter, Cuban called on Musk to lead by example. 

He asked him to start, in the name of transparency, by making public what he considers to be free speech on Twitter. Because in the current state of affairs, the Techno King is the only one who has a clear vision of what he decrees as free speech or not. The final policy is in his discretion and no one has the power to dispute what Musk says, Cuban seems to think.

"Come on @elonmusk We all know what free speech re the gov is because we can read the 1st Amendment and any related case law," Cuban said. "We have no idea what Free Speech on Twitter is because you are judge and jury. There is no transparency. When do we see the @twitter Bill of Rights ?"

Musk has not responded yet.