Two scenarios: (1) Elon Musk just bought Twitter. We’re doomed! Or (2) Elon Musk just bought Twitter. Hooray!
Musk, the richest person in the world, owns Tesla, SpaceX and now, Twitter, but I don’t much care because I’ll never drive an electric car or go into space, and don’t waste my time on Twitter or other social media. I’d much rather read a good book.
But, as a veteran journalist, I care a lot about freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution. “Congress shall make no law… abridging freedom of speech, or of the press …” I love it! And so should you.
The Biden administration panicked when Musk bought Twitter, and the president’s most incompetent Cabinet member, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, announced a new Disinformation Governance Board to police social media content. Social media maven Nina Jankowicz, who still thinks Hunter Biden’s laptop is “Russian disinformation,” will chair the DHS Censorship Board. She’s right out of George Orwell’s “1984.”
On the political left, there was a torrent of caterwauling about how Musk’s purchase of Twitter would destroy democracy as we know it, while those on the right celebrated what they called a victory for free speech. But no one knows whether Musk is a liberal or a conservative. What we do know is that he loves free market capitalism and wants to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s the American Way on both sides of the political spectrum as demonstrated by the money-grubbing Biden and Trump families. Cha ching!
So what does the oft-inscrutable business tycoon say about his purchase of Twitter? Not much except that he wants to run the popular social media platform as a “free speech town square.” Are you afraid of that idea? I’m not.
“My, what a progressive panic Elon Musk’s $44 billion (with a “b”) purchase of Twitter has inspired,” the conservative Wall Street Journal opined in an editorial, adding that a clueless MSNBC host worried that Musk’s Twitter might “secretly ban one party’s (presidential) candidate.” Uh hello? Twitter banned former President Trump a month before the 2020 election.” Can you say “hypocrisy?”
Journal columnist Holman Jenkins noted a recent Pew survey found that “69 percent of highly prolific tweeters are liberals” and that “Twitter’s content moderation overwhelmingly… reflects the priorities of the left.” He said Google was able to “detoxify” itself four years ago and hoped Musk would be able to do the same at Twitter.
“Mr. Musk’s real contribution may turn out to be a one-and-done move to relieve Twitter of its foolish overcommitment to the politics of the left,” such as when “name-brand CEOs denounced a Georgia voting law they hadn’t bothered to examine …” Jenkins concluded.
Writing in the Journal, social media critics Vivek Ramaswamy and Jed Rubenfeld argued Twitter “needs moderation, but there are ways to do that while abolishing viewpoint discrimination.” That is, Musk should be able to depoliticize Twitter without censoring unpopular opinions. “There is no silver bullet to resolve the irreducible challenges of operating a user-friendly social media company that also protects free speech,” they wrote.
We know that’s true, and Musk will need all the help he can get in order to turn Twitter into the “free speech town square” he envisions. I wish him well in that noble quest in defense of our Constitution. He met the difficult challenges of electric vehicles and space travel, but this social media challenge may be even more difficult than conquering electricity or space travel.
Guy W. Farmer is a confirmed techno-phobe who hates social media.