Elon Musk proclaims the "the bird is freed" and then immediately walks that back in the face of increased hate speech.
When I first heard that Elon Musk was trying to buy Twitter, I was skeptical. It seemed like a stunt intended to get attention. He said he wanted to end the censorship of ideas. Conservative Twitter was all a flutter over the prospect, and many liberal-leaning users left for other platforms. I suspected it was just a bluff, especially after it looked like he was going to back out of the deal.
But Twitter held Elon Musk’s feet to the fire and last Friday he officially acquired Twitter, announcing that the “bird is freed”. Almost immediately, racist, anti-LGBTQ, and other hateful content flooded the site., prompting Musk to walk back his anti-censorship stance and announce that nothing would change until he installs his own content moderators.
Musk has a history of stirring the pot, for what seems to be his own amusement. Apparently being that rich is pretty boring. After all, with that much money, he has the power to do a lot of good. But rather than doing something to improve the world, he decided to engage in this ego-plumping venture instead.
Musk isn’t quite the champion of free speech he likes to portray himself as. He also has a history of blocking or otherwise punishing those who disagree or criticize him. Like others who scream that their opinions are being censored, he has no problem censoring opinions he doesn’t like. Completely ignoring the fact that millions of people are reading the very words that are supposedly being censored.
If the extremist right-wing jubilation ends up being justified, Twitter will likely devolve into an echo chamber. Like Palor, Gab, and the ill-fated Truth Social, which haven’t come anywhere close to the user base of Twitter. It seems that espousing hateful and vile rhetoric isn’t as fun when everybody you’re interacting with agrees with you.
Musk’s money is only as powerful as those who hold his loans
Musk didn’t write his own check to acquire Twitter, and ultimately he is beholden to those who did. He might have a long way to fall, but he isn’t immune to the pressure of his investors and debt holders. And I have a feeling that they aren’t going to be willing to lose their own money to the whims of a bored billionaire. There is already a lot of talk from big names, who currently provide a lot of valuable content for free leaving. Taking many of their followers with them.
I could be completely wrong here. Don’t tell my kid this… but I’ve been wrong before. But if there is anything I have learned in my forty-four years on this planet it’s that making decisions based on emotion before I have all the data is a bad move. Like every car I purchased before the age of thirty.
For now, I’m in wait-and-see mode. I’m looking into other platforms, like Countersocial and Tribel. But frankly, I’m not all that excited about ending up in my own echo chamber either.
Honestly, I don’t think that Twitter is going to go the way of the dodo-bird. Once the firestorm calms down, I’m pretty sure Twitter landscape is going to end up pretty much the same as it was before.