The Richmond Observer – OPINION: ELON MUSK: Free speech warrior and epic Twitter troll

A few weeks ago, the billionaire announced that he had become an active shareholder in the infamous social media platform Twitter, buying around 10% of its shares.

It wasn’t long before the news caused a stir on social media, with worried Twitter employees expressing fears about what Musk’s new role as a shareholder means for the platform’s future. particularly in the area of ​​freedom of expression.

Musk, who has often called himself a “free speech absolutist,” has become the antithesis of the woke movement, pushing the bear and pushing as many buttons as he can with every passing tweet.

This has caused a wave of outrage from people who think Musk’s beliefs in free speech are too radical, and if left to rule unrestrained, the brainchild of Tesla and SpaceX will create a environment where “offensive” speech will be allowed, and cyberbullies will be allowed. go unpunished — the horror!

Musk has been openly critical of Twitter’s approach to free speech on its site, and for good reason.

As the cancel culture grew in importance, so did Twitter’s affinity for banning users it deemed to be in violation of its terms of service.

While figures associated with right-wing causes, like President Donald Trump and Alex Jones, were among the most notable bans, the platform also deleted the accounts of many people on the left. Curiously, while Twitter rules state that “you may not threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism”, members of the Taliban have been allowed to keep their accounts active.

But as outrage over Musk’s new shareholder status grew, he couldn’t help but up the ante.

Musk further fanned the fires of fear that his vision of free speech online would lead to the destruction of democracy as we know it when he announced his intention to buy Twitter, even revealing that he had secured $46.5 billion in funding to do so.

The Washington Post warned that Elon’s new relationship with the company should be about anyone who cares about fairness and accountability, not least because of his tendency to “crush,” as the author put it.

Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, accused Musk of trying to “control one of the most important ways the public now receives information.”

Political pundit Max Boot even made the all-too-dramatic proclamation that “For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.”

What all of these critics have in common is the view that content should be moderated and free speech online should be restricted in order to spare the feelings of those who might be offended.

Certainly, the First Amendment right to free speech is meant to apply specifically to governments, not private entities. Twitter is not a government agency and therefore not bound by the limits of the Constitution.

However, Twitter and social media in general was once a bastion of free speech, where all ideas could be posted and users could choose to accept, disagree or ignore them.

But as free speech has fallen out of favor and more people have called for censorship to protect them from content that could be ‘triggered’, Twitter and other social platforms have cracked down on permitted content. to be shared by its users.

While the platform isn’t required to allow or promote free speech, it’s certainly not admirable that it works so hard to censor content, a sentiment Musk agrees with. fervor.

Twitter is the new town square, it’s where people go for news and commentary. For genuine civil discourse to occur, people need to be exposed to a host of ideas, even those that some may find offensive.

But in today’s overly politicized and extremely polarized climate, this idea that was once so important to American ideals is not seen as a threat.

Initially, Twitter wasn’t so keen on Musk’s offer and even instituted what’s called a “poison pill.”

As the Financial Times explains:

“Under the poison pill passed by Twitter’s board last week, just days after Musk’s offer, it can flood the market with new stock by allowing existing investors to buy stock with a 50% discount if Musk – or any other investor – builds a stake in the company that exceeds 15 percent.”

Musk is not one to give up easily and he has continued to pursue the acquisition of the platform.

On April 25, Musk and Twitter reached a deal, with the former buying the company for $44 billion.

The “hostile takeover” – as some are calling it – has created divided hysteria on Twitter.

Musk’s critics are threatening to leave the platform, and some have already done so.

Love him or hate him, Musk’s new purchase has once again pushed the battle for free speech into the spotlight.

Whether a governmental or private entity, freedom of expression is an important part of any free society. Musk’s social media presence, while always entertaining, doesn’t always display the most virtuous content.

Musk’s unique and well-located position, combined with his love of pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable behavior in today’s world, is not only admirable, it may simply secure the future of the civil discourse.

Only time will tell. But for now, there’s reason to hope that Musk has just cemented his place as the boldest and greatest free speech warrior in modern history.

Brittany E. Hunter is social media manager and columnist at the Pacific Legal Foundation and former senior writer at the Foundation for Economic Education. She is also the author of the book “Skip College: Launch Your Career Without Debt, Distractions, Or a Degree” and co-host of “The Way the World Works” podcast. Republished from AmericasFuture.org.

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