October 31, 2022


“Elon Musk has taken control of Twitter and ousted the CEO, chief financial officer and the company’s top lawyer, two people familiar with the deal said Thursday night.” AP News

In an open letter to advertisers on Thursday, he stated: “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. 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.” Twitter

He tweeted on Friday that “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.” Twitter

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From the Left

The left is skeptical of both Musk’s foreign business interests and that he will be able to please critics of Twitter’s current policies.

“Musk has important business interests around the world, and the potential riptides are endless. What happens when Kim Kardashian starts tweeting about how Taiwan is an independent country? Will the government of China quietly suggest to Musk that he do something about this, or will they make things hard for Tesla’s Shanghai plant and block the import of Teslas? What do other Tesla shareholders do if he defies China, and they find out his little bird app adventure is losing them money? What happens when a SpaceX rocket explodes, but Musk has been too busy adjudicating which Nazi furries are going to be suspended for a month?”

Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

Elon Musk is a conglomerate, and each arm of his empire potentially gives him more leverage, real or imagined, in advocating for the others. Before lawmakers choose to speak out about concerns with Tesla, for example, some may also weigh whether Musk might discontinue offering his Starlink broadband internet system in Ukraine, or whether he might put his thumb on the scale to promote certain content on Twitter that may disadvantage them… [This] should give everyone pause.”

Seth Fiegerman, CNN

“[Musk] has said he will run Twitter in a way that hues closer to free speech absolutism. But he evidently understands some rules will be in place, as he sought to assure advertisers that the platform ‘obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.’…  

“But, if rules are in place, that means disciplinary actions must also be in place, and that means that Musk will find himself in the position of having to slap users with punitive measures. In other words, Musk will have no choice but to effectively censor people. What happens when the ‘free speech absolutist’ is suddenly the person responsible for censorship on the platform? How will Musk handle criticism from his fanbase when they accuse him of being anti-free speech?”

Oliver Darcy, CNN

Twitter isn’t a ‘public square.’… Fewer than one-quarter of U.S. adults use Twitter at all. Of this sliver of the population, an even tinier cohort is responsible for the vast majority of tweets: ‘The top 25% of users by tweet volume produce 97% of all tweets, while the bottom 75% of users produce just 3%.’… According to the firm’s own research, Twitter is struggling to maintain the engagement of its most active users…

“[Similarly] Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is also having epochal problems as its ‘metaverse’ play founders and the company (and its founder) shed market value. Maybe what’s happening right now is simple evolution: Social media’s neolithic age is simply giving way to the next era, and the old dinosaurs are sinking in tar. At any rate, if you’re in need of an actual public square, there’s always the real thing: public and civic life, political organizing, and citizenship.”

Jason Linkins, New Republic

From the Right

The right celebrates Musk’s takeover and urges him to implement guidelines protecting freedom of speech.

The right celebrates Musk’s takeover and urges him to implement guidelines protecting freedom of speech.

“Musk should focus on the First Amendment as a model for Twitter’s content-management policy. It has become a mantra on the left that free-speech objections to social-media censorship are meritless because the First Amendment does not apply to private corporations… While the First Amendment does not bind private corporations, there is nothing preventing one — like Twitter — voluntarily assuming such protections for free speech…

“There’d be narrow exceptions for threatening, unlawful and a few other proscribed categories of speech. Twitter can tap into a long line of First Amendment jurisprudence limiting the scope of such speech regulations. Even with a private company’s greater flexibility, a First Amendment-based policy would establish much better protections for free speech.”

Jonathan Turley, New York Post

“One thing he can and should do immediately is to sever all connections with third-party fact-checkers used by Twitter to judge what is or is not misinformation. The simple fact is that the American fact-checking industry is dangerously broken beyond repair. It was these supposed experts and credentialed institutions that crushed debate over COVID-19 policy under their censorious boot for 2 years. It was these same ill-informed technocrats who buried the Hunter Biden laptop story and wrongfully suspended the account of the New York Post…

“The whole point of a marketplace of ideas is to let the market determine which are good or bad, which are true or false. When a prominent account posts an obvious lie, which happens about once every 15 seconds, there are thousands and thousands of users ready to point their fingers and laugh, bringing attention to the lie. And if even if some are missed it is better that a dozen lies go unchecked than that a single important truth be hidden from the people…

“We don’t need to talk about the ‘health’ of the conversation or any other New Agey gobbledygook. Don’t threaten violence, don’t be overtly racist, don’t dox people. Those are the kinds of neutral rules that Twitter can and should operate under which will not chill the speech of millions.”

David Marcus, Fox News

Some note, “I have no idea what this [content moderation] council is or will do. However, I do know that this isn't ‘free speech.’ Regardless of said council, a committee determining what can or cannot be tweeted still limits speech. It may be better than the left-wing overlords who previously ran the company. However, such a council's presence suggests that Musk has at least caved from his original position on Twitter…

“Some moderation makes sense, obviously, but it's also a slippery slope to restricting the flow of content to the platform's users. Time will tell what the new Twitter will look like and how much it will change. One thing seems inevitable, though. It will not be a platform of completely free speech.”
Christopher Tremoglie, Washington Examiner

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