It is all but a completely foregone conclusion that Twitter has a new owner, and his name is Elon Musk. Ever since the Tesla CEO announced that he was buying the social media platform, folks on both the left and the right have speculated as to what the site would look like with Musk at the helm.
Conservatives were optimistic, hoping that he would transform the platform into an online space that is fair to users of all political persuasions. Fed up with the constant censorship of right-leaning opinions, they saw in Musk a hope for a better cyber future.
Conversely, folks on the left were upset and concerned that he would allow an outlet for those wishing to promote “hate speech.” They insisted he would use his position to further victimize supposed marginalized groups. Members of the activist media even attempted to convince the nation that his South African roots were an indicator that he and his family supported apartheid-style oppression.
But now that Musk is finalizing the purchase, reality is setting in for left-minded folks, and they are even more unhinged than they were a few months ago. After Musk tweeted a message to advertisers explaining his plans for the social media company, several blue checkmarks chimed in.
Dear Twitter Advertisers pic.twitter.com/GMwHmInPAS
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2022
Blogger Parker Molloy claimed Musk would create more of a right-wing bias than it supposedly has at the moment. She tweeted:
Notice that he doesn’t say anything about whether or not he’ll tweak the algorithm to create *even more* right-wing bias than there already is (and yes, Twitter does have a right-wing bias: https://protocol.com/policy/twitter-algorithm-right-wing-bias), how he’ll use people’s data, etc.
Molloy laughably linked to an article detailing an internal analysis conducted by Twitter claiming it was biased in favor of conservatives. I suppose the fact that even former Twitter employees admitted to shadowbanning right-leaning accounts isn’t supposed to cast doubt on that particular study, right?
Writer and media critic Bob Chipman claimed that Twitter under Musk would give the far-right “more leeway.” He wrote:
The problem is, this is what EVERY (Western) media entity says before it pivots toward giving the far-right WAY more leeway (i.e. any) than it should have because they mistakenly believe there’s an actual balance already in place. There is not.
The problem is, this is what EVERY (Western) media entity says before it pivots toward giving the far-right WAY more leeway (i.e. any) than it should have because they mistakenly believe there's an actual balance already in place. There is not. https://t.co/mQQ9ykl6Ox
— Like Kurosawa, I Make Mad (@the_moviebob) October 27, 2022
History professor and MSNBC contributor Ruth Ben-Ghiat insisted that he should not allow people who “incited hate” or “tried to overthrow a government” back on the platform:
Nice statement but if he allows people who have incited hate or tried to overthrow a government back on Twitter then these words are just about keeping ad revenue.
Nice statement but if he allows people who have incited hate or tried to overthrow a government back on Twitter then these words are just about keeping ad revenue. https://t.co/QhiGIbwVlx
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) October 27, 2022
Like Ben-Ghiat, many on the left are absolutely horrified at the thought that Musk would let former President Donald Trump back on Twitter.
So, let’s break down Musk’s open letter to advertisers to see what these people are so afraid of. He begins:
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.
This is objectively true. In fact, social media is already divided into far-left and far-right-wing echo chambers. This siloing has resulted in users engaging only with those who share their beliefs. But it will only get worse if current trends are allowed to continue.
To prevent this, Musk seeks to build a “digital town square” where people of all political persuasions can engage freely, without biased censorship, shadowbanning, and other methods that far-leftists use to silence opposing views. There is a reason why this terrifies the hard left – they typically eschew the idea of using persuasion and arguments to win people over because it is much easier to simply suppress viewpoints with which they disagree.
In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fueled and catered to those polarized extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but , in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.
The new Twitter CEO goes on to assure advertisers that this does not mean that there will be absolutely no content moderation:
That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.
This bit seems intended to appease those concerned about actual white supremacists or other hate groups holding sway over the platform. But, other than adhering to existing laws regarding speech, Musk has not given much detail as to which type of content will be moderated.
Still, everything he laid out is anathema to the type of online environment progressives would like to see on the platform. They are not exactly fans of dialogue between people with divergent beliefs. While they would never admit it, they are afraid that if conservative viewpoints are given just as much of a chance to reach people as left-leaning opinions, they will begin to lose support.
They just might be right about this one.
But if Musk truly means what he says, this development will deliver a significant blow to the so-called progressive cause. To put it simply, the pro-censorship crowd has much to fear if the new CEO delivers on his promises.