‘Free speech is a social imperative’: Is Elon Musk right about buying Twitter?

Elon Musk Twitter

Fact Box

  • Elon Musk is a South-African-born American entrepreneur who founded SpaceX in 2002 and became a prime funder of Tesla Motors in 2004. 
  • In a letter sent to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor on April 14, 2022, Musk offered to buy Twitter at $54 billion noting, “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.” 
  • As of March 22, 2022, Twitter reached 76.9 million users in the United States, with Japan at 58 million and India at 23.6 million users. 
  • Musk is the richest man in the world with a total net worth of $251 billion as of April 15, 2022. Jeff Bezos runs in second place at $176 billion, and Bernard Arnault at $143 billion. 
  • A July 2021 Pew Research Center poll found that 65% of Americans believe that people are too easily offended while 53% believe people are saying offensive things to one another.

Curtice (Yes)

In his recent SEC filing to buy Twitter, Elon Musk declared the social media company has failed to meet its social imperative. In part, this is undoubtedly due to its heavy-handedness when it comes to subjectively suspending accounts over tweets it claims violates its policies.

Social media platforms were created to allow people to connect and share ideas. However, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others have morphed into outlets restricting content based on what they don't like. Specifically, they work to restrict ideas or even legitimate stories they disapprove of—Twitter suspending the account of the New York Post for publishing articles on Hunter Biden's laptop in 2020 or the satire site, The Babylon Bee, for example. As even the New York Times and the Washington Post have belatedly acknowledged, the Hunter Biden laptop and his emails are legitimate, not Russian disinformation as they and much of the media claimed in 2020. 

The Biden administration has even encouraged social media companies to monitor social media posts they deem 'misinformation.' This includes the Biden administration and the legacy media's regular and routine attempts at misinformation themselves—four years of false Russia collusion stories being a prime example.

And as far as The Babylon Bee is concerned, humor that makes fun of liberal orthodoxy or its sacred cows must be rejected at all costs.

Elon Musk is a strong advocate for free speech, something the social media companies no longer are if they ever were. Social media giants, left-wing advocates, and much of the mainstream media believe points of view that differ from their own should be silenced. If Musk successfully purchases Twitter, there is a chance the scales can be tipped slightly in the other direction—towards free speech.

Siam (No)

Elon Musk is a rich man and surely has the money to buy Twitter. He can easily sell some of his shares on Tesla or his Spaceship SpaceX to do so. But if Americans want free speech, then his endeavor should not be supported. Twitter has already established itself as a free speech platform, so what more Musk wants to establish is unclear.

Musk's attempt has more to do with attention-grabbing antics that surround Twitter without much substance. Last week he was offered a board seat, but for some unknown reason, he declined, now wanting more. Elon Musk is not a man of his words and most likely has his own agenda. The last thing on his mind is free speech. Despite claiming that he is a free speech advocate, he has not always acted as such, and there are countless reports on social media where he has fired workers at Tesla for speaking out. In addition, he is a spreader of 'NOTHING' news. In early March 2020, he said the 'coronavirus pandemic was dumb' and 'more like a common cold,' advocating the antimalarial chloroquine as treatment—this is from a man considered extremely intelligent.

Like Trump, Elon Musk does not appear to have the temperament to run Twitter. The Social media platform was meant to be an outlet for people whose voice was not regularly heard, but there are still rules and regulations that everyone has to obey. But by buying Twitter, many people fear that Elon Musk will only hear his own voice. Even though Musk claims Twitter has throttled free speech, most believe his goal is not free expression but control of all speech, where anyone who says anything he does not like will presumably be banned.

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