Could people be made to believe their ability to speak goes against their own interests? Could they be convinced freedom is a shackling scourge?
Such notions are raised in an April 12th write-up for The Guardian.
As you’re no doubt aware, Elon Musk has made moves toward obtaining Twitter. And from all indications, his idea of proper speech restrictions differs substantially from those presently in place.
To put it plainly, where free speech is concerned, the billionaire’s for it.
But whereas such a position was once ubiquitously American, the country seems to have experienced a shift.
Case in point: the piece by University of California Professor (and Clinton Labor Secretary) Robert Reich
“Years ago,” he writes, “pundits assumed the internet would open a new era of democracy, giving everyone access to the truth.”
In the professor’s estimation, that never occurred.
[D]ictators like Putin and demagogues like Trump have demonstrated how naive that assumption was.
But at least the President was punted:
At least the US responded to Trump’s lies. Trump had 88 million Twitter followers before Twitter took him off its platform – just two days after the attack on the Capitol, which he provoked, in part, with his tweets.
That ejection was “necessary to protect American democracy,” Reich reckons.
As for Elon, he’s told “his 80 million followers all sorts of things,” in addition to denouncing Big Tech as “the de facto arbiter of free speech.”
To hear Robert tell it, the Tesla man’s a menace:
Musk advocates free speech, but in reality it’s just about power.
According to Robert, if Elon acquires Twitter, he might dabble in the devilish:
Will Musk use his clout to let Trump back on? I fear he will.
Furthermore, the Clinton-era official insists, lauded liberty online isn’t safe:
Musk has long advocated a libertarian vision of an “uncontrolled” internet. That vision is dangerous rubbish. There’s no such animal, and there never will be.
“Someone has to decide on the algorithms in every platform,” he says, “how they’re designed, how they evolve, what they reveal and what they hide. Musk has enough power and money to quietly give himself this sort of control over Twitter.”
When it comes to the exchange of ideas, Robert like limits:
Musk has never believed that power comes with responsibility. … During his long and storied history with Twitter, he has threatened journalists and tweeted reckless things.
In a nutshell:
Musk says he wants to “free” the internet. But what he really aims to do is make it even less accountable than it is now, when it’s often impossible to discover…who is filling social media with lies, who’s poisoning our minds with pseudo-science and propaganda, and who’s deciding which versions of events go viral and which stay under wraps.
In a very short time, America has traveled far. Previously, “poisoning our minds with pseudo-science and propaganda” by way of unencumbered expression was something that might occur in any room in America. Everyone was allowed to say what they wished, right or wrong, good or bad. In response, everyone else had the right to do the same. That’s how discussion was carried out.
These days, the nation’s “room” is largely online. And the citizenry’s been muzzled in multiple ways.
Back to the question at this article’s start — “Could people be made to believe their ability to speak is against their own interest?” — perhaps a clue comes in the form of the following:
Rebellion Ain’t What It Used to Be: College Students Protest Their Own Freedom to Unmask
Professor Worries Over What Unmasking Might Bring: ‘Freedom’
College Students Hold a ‘Die-In’ to Protest Their Own Freedom to Unmask
Either way, Robert warns against “a brave new world”:
In Musk’s vision of Twitter and the internet, he’d be the wizard behind the curtain…
In reality, that world would be dominated by the richest and most powerful people in the world, who wouldn’t be accountable to anyone for facts, truth, science or the common good.
That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare.
Are you ready for the tyranny of freedom? Some, clearly, are not:
MSNBC Warns That Free Speech On Twitter Would Be a 'Danger' to Free Speech — and It Perfectly Captures Where We Arehttps://t.co/dFDDUaBu62
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) April 19, 2022
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