Kingdom Holding Company and the private investment office of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal announced last week that the organizations hold nearly 35 million shares in Twitter even after Elon Musk acquired the social media platform, according to a statement released by the royal. Although Musk said he purchased the company to encourage free expression and combat political polarization, Murphy called for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to examine Saudi Arabia’s potential role as new ownership changes the website.
“Today I am requesting the Committee on Foreign Investment — which reviews acquisitions of U.S. businesses by foreign buyers — to conduct an investigation into the national security implications of Saudi Arabia’s purchase of Twitter,” the lawmaker said on social media. “We should be concerned that the Saudis, who have a clear interest in repressing political speech and impacting U.S. politics, are now the second-largest owner of a major social media platform.”
Murphy noted that both TikTok and Twitter, two of the most prominent American social media platforms, would be owned “in whole or in part” by China and Saudi Arabia. “There is a clear national security issue at stake and CFIUS should do a review,” he continued. “This is a dangerous trend, and we don’t have to accept it.”
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, maintains a 16.9% stake in Kingdom Holding Company.
The proposal comes as leftists voice distrust for Musk and his leadership of the social media platform. The world’s richest man revived efforts to purchase Twitter earlier this month after fighting the company in court over his attempt to cancel a previous offer, a move he said was driven by concerns that executives were underestimating the number of fake accounts on the platform. He immediately fired CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde, who had a role in removing former President Donald Trump from the platform and suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story days before the election of 2020.
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk explained in a statement last week. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”
Murphy’s calls for an investigation also occur amid poor relations between Saudi Arabia and members of the Democratic Party. Lawmakers have questioned the wisdom of the United States’ continued alliance with the country after officials moved to restrict global petroleum output, leading to a worldwide surge in oil prices. The Saudi government later revealed in a statement that President Joe Biden had requested for the kingdom to delay the production cut until the upcoming midterm elections had concluded.
The commander-in-chief previously called the nation a “pariah” during the 2020 election cycle in response to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had been critical of the kingdom’s rulers. Leaders from Saudi Arabia and China said two weeks ago that the two nations plan to strengthen cooperation on energy.