In Elon Musk’s own words, buying Twitter was an effort to restore free speech on the platform. Despite this noble intent, the acquisition of this unprofitable social media company has been full of drama since the start. Indeed, the left has been extremely uncompromising in casting Musk’s overpriced buyout as a hostile takeover of American democracy. Meanwhile, commentators on the right have held ambivalent views about the tycoon’s real aims. Now the debate on Musk’s management of Twitter is reaching new lows with the ban of several accredited journalists. It is time to ask: Is Musk’s ownership of Twitter a threat to democracy? The answer is no, there is not an inherent risk in having Musk or another billion owning Twitter. Actually, there may be some positives, as the billionaire brings back some old-style equality to the platform.
Musk’s Original Sin
Most criticism of the takeover focuses on the treasure trove of data Twitter can provide to Musk. However, almost no one complained about the risks connected with the unfair competitive advantages that Musk’s companies may reap. Rather, the real issue has been the possibility of this digital forum ceasing to be the liberals’ exclusive club.
And this hostility is not even proportionate to any moral “offense” Musk may have committed. True, he did alienate the bulk of Twitter’s content creators by committing his “original sin” against the left. Namely, he sacked most of the top-ranking executives at Twitter – whose opinions had made them idols for some. However, he did not engage in the sort of censorship that some on the left feared. Instead, under his management, commentary on gender and race awareness, soy lattes, vegan wine, and organic burgers made of crickets are still abundant. And progressives can still tweet on why white people should apologize for pretty much everything.
However, free speech means that gender activists and insect-eaters should have the same platform as those who hold opposing views. Thus, Musk’s original sin was completed when he “opened the gates of hell” and reinstated previously banned accounts. Surely, many would recall the uproar that followed the lifting of Donald Trump’s ban. However, less visible returns were much more important, including Jordan Peterson, one of this century’s foremost intellectuals, and many doctors and scientists who dared to uphold scientific truth against political indoctrination during the pandemic.
Consistently, a restricted number of activists and journalists who, until very recently, considered Twitter their own fief, authored most of the earlier negative coverage of Musk’s time at the helm of Twitter. Some even insinuated that Elon Musk and his acquisition of Twitter constituted “a threat to U.S. national security”. And, knowing that part of his base is dead set against Musk, Biden failed to dismiss such allegations.
Musk’s Second Sin
Restoring “inappropriate” accounts may have loosened those liberals’ grip on the content circulating on Twitter. Yet, that was only a minor error that could easily be argued for on free-speech grounds. The doxing debate shows there is at least one argument of principle that liberals will not give up, and it is a deeply elitist and exclusionary one: there are two classes of Twitter users, us and the rest. Thus, it may very well be allowed for heterodox doctors and some conservative politicians to voice their opinions. And, it goes unsaid, they can in no way try to silence the liberal masters of Twitter. But what is more important, is that the latter must be allowed to attack those who oppose their leftist gospel.
Examples of such attacks have abounded recently. One example may suffice to refresh everyone’s memory: an “activist actor” tweeted J.K. Rowling’s address because of her political views. As a result, the author received “so many death threats [she] could paper the house with them”. Yet, neither the police nor Twitter did anything to prevent the fact or punish its author. This is essentially doxing. What makes it so chilling is that no one fights back when radical activists use Twitter to silence others’ opinions.
In an effort to prevent either side from resorting to such tools, Musk committed his second sin against the left. With the recent ban of CNN, NYT, and Wahington Post journalists, Musk stated that there may be no privileged users on Twitter. In his words: they are all “citizens of Twitter” and if “you dox, you get suspended”. Thus, radical progressives are going to find it much more difficult to prevent what they deem as undesirable speech, which can only be good news for free speech.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.