Tesla billionaire and potential Twitter owner Elon Musk appears to be teasing a possible business collaboration with Kanye West, despite the rapper’s recent antisemitic rants and attacks on George Floyd.
On Monday, Mr Musk shared an image playing on the Dragon Ball anime series, where two characters can fuse together into a more powerful being by touching fingers. In his version, the Tesla founder is edited onto one character, along with a Twitter logo, while West’s face is superimposed onto another, with the logo of Parler, the right-wing social network West recently purchased.
“Fun times ahead!” Mr Musk wrote below the image.
The Independent has contacted representatives for Mr Musk, West, Twitter and Parler for comment.
The post comes amid Mr Musk’s tumultous bid to buy Twitter, which he revived in October after previously attempting to exit the deal, prompting a lawsuit from the social network to force the purchase through.
The billionaire and the controversial rapper have known each other for some time.
West visited Mr Musk’s SpaceX aerospace venture as far back as 2011, and the pair have occasionally been photographed together since.
Mr Musk even wrote about the musician for TIME magazine’s 2015 TIME 100 list.
“Kanye’s belief in himself and his incredible tenacity — he performed his first single with his jaw wired shut — got him to where he is today. And he fought for his place in the cultural pantheon with a purpose,” the mogul wrote.
Observers worry that Mr Musk is seeking to roll back provisions limiting hate-speech and other violent comments on Twitter, as well as reinstating Donald Trump’s access to the platform.
Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media watchdog, said Mr Musk’s post-purchase plans for Twitter would turn the site into a “supercharged engine of radicalisation”, given the Telsa billionaire’s public comments and leaked text messages about loosening speech restrictions on the site and potentially bringing back the former president.
“Musk made it clear that he would roll back Twitters’ community standards and safety guidelines, reinstate Donald Trump along with scores of other accounts suspended for violence and abuse, and open the floodgates of disinformation,” Mr Carusone said. “In effect, Musk will turn Twitter into a fever swamp of dangerous conspiracy theories, partisan chicanery, and operationalized harassment.”
Mr Musk’s Monday post about West may further alarm critics.
Parler, which has at times been banned by Apple and Google multiple times, is popular with right-wing figures and their followers, and was used to spread conspiracy theories and coordinate violence ahead of the January 6 riots at the US Capitol.
The platform features fewer content rules than mainstream social networks.
West, who now goes by the name Ye, said he pursued the acquisition to boost conservative speech.
“In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” West said in a statement.
Even after West used social media and a podcast appearance to spread a number of deeply antisemitic tropes and comments, Mr Musk seemed eager to engage with Ye, welcoming the rapper back to Twitter after he was locked out of his Instagram account for making antisemitic comments.
“Welcome back to Twitter, my friend!” the billionaire wrote on one of West’s posts criticising Mark Zuckerberg.