So, Elon Musk has bought Twitter for $44 billion. Musk’s decision to acquire Twitter seems to be due to his concerns about Twitter’s policy of censoring political opinions in particular Twitter’s suspension of the Babylon Bee for the hateful conduct of identifying Dr. Rachel Levine as a man, even though he is, in fact, a man.
Mr. Musk promises to make Twitter a free speech platform once again in his words:
Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated
I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.
Frankly, I wish he had spent that $44 billion on his spaceship to Mars or improving the Tesla. I am sure Mr. Musk means well, but I don’t think there is any way to save Twitter. The problem with Twitter isn’t just the arbitrary and one-sided censorship that the current management of Twitter is employing. The problem runs deeper than any particular policy that Elon Musk or anyone else could change. The problem with Twitter lies in the nature of the platform.
I have said in the past that if the Devil wanted to devise a social media platform to turn people against one another and make the earth more like Hell, he would design something very much like Twitter. The 280-character limit does nothing to encourage careful, nuanced discussion or even discretion. Instead, Twitter rewards the quick zing, the snarky comeback with the rush and excitement of seeing your tweets retweeted and commented upon. If Elon Musk really wants to help everyone, the best thing he could do would be to shut down Twitter altogether.
Still, it has been both fun and instructive to observe how leftists have come out against freedom of expression. They were never really in favor of the concept of free speech, or really, of freedom in general, but after the events of the last few years, they have taken the masks off, figuratively speaking, that is. They still insist on masking up against COVID. Ever since the announcement that Elon Musk was buying Twitter and intended to make it a free speech platform, we have been warned repeatedly of the dangers that free speech poses to “our democracy.” Robert Reich warns us that:
Musk says he wants to “free” the internet. But what he really aims to do is make it even less accountable than it is now, when it’s often impossible to discover who is making the decisions about how algorithms are designed, who is filling social media with lies, who’s poisoning our minds with pseudo-science and propaganda, and who’s deciding which versions of events go viral and which stay under wraps.
Make no mistake: this is not about freedom. It’s about power.
In Musk’s vision of Twitter and the internet, he’d be the wizard behind the curtain – projecting on the world’s screen a fake image of a brave new world empowering everyone.
In reality, that world would be dominated by the richest and most powerful people in the world, who wouldn’t be accountable to anyone for facts, truth, science or the common good.
That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.
You may have noticed how dictators like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and all the rest have all been staunch defenders of the freedom of the people they have ruled to say whatever they wanted. Reich, and many other leftists, are saying that someone rich and powerful like Musk or Trump may use Twitter or any other social media platform to spread lies and misinformation, therefore social media companies and perhaps the government should be able to control what is said. In other words, to protect “our democracy” from would-be dictators, it is necessary to act like a dictator and control what can be said, shutting down purveyors of misinformation. This doesn’t make much sense, but little of what the left believes these days makes much sense.
I wish Mr. Musk well in his efforts, but I don’t think I will be reopening that Twitter account that I never even used. I think that we would be better off if we all started to talk to each other instead of tweeting at each other