Tesla CEO Elon Musk is living the Marvel super-hero dream of a tech billionaire who flies around in space fighting evil. While he might not have the washboard abs to fill out an Iron Man suit, he’s certainly got the charisma, cash, and crazy to vanquish the nerds in Silicon Valley.
Last week, Musk asked his 80.3 million followers about Twitter and its treatment of free speech, something that has become a serious issue with social media platforms weighing in on political elections and tilting the global conversation at the behest of their fragile fringe-left activist teenage management.
‘Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle? The consequences of this poll will be important. Please vote carefully.’
The poll returned a 70.4 per cent negative. No surprises there, given ‘Twitter Purge’ and ‘Shadow Ban’ are common themes for the platform.
Brigitte Gabriel, author and social commentator, replied, ‘Please buy Twitter.’
‘Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?’ asked Musk, in a follow-up Tweet that attracted 31.9 thousand replies.
Then Musk added the rather ominous (for Twitter): ‘Seize the memes of production!’
And that’s exactly what Musk did. He purchased 9.2 per cent of Twitter bringing his total share ownership to almost 10 per cent. The move caused Twitter’s shares to spike 26 per cent.
It’s pretty clear what customers want – a platform that allows them to communicate without a roll of duct-tape in the corner and shadowy algorithms making dissenting voices disappear.
Musk’s ‘hostile takeover’ was closer to a marketing ploy, raising the value of shares with his online theatrics. Not that most people care. He’s a cool rich bloke annoying insufferable rich blokes – which is what most people wish they had enough cash to do. Besides, social justice warriors that work for Twitter are already resigning in protest, complaining that they can’t work for a free-speech absolutist. So sad…
Musk’s natural nemesis, Ex-Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey, clearly didn’t want play. He stepped away months ago, leaving his digital creation to be fought over. Will Twitter end up as the plaything of censorial politicians who see it as nothing more than a heavily regulated campaign platform? Or will people like Musk, with enough money and levity, salvage Twitter and restore one of the most extraordinary creations in the history of humanity?
Whatever you may think of Twitter, Facebook, and other similar social media platforms – they represent the first time that humanity has been able to have a global conversation in real-time. It is an enormous evolutionary pressure that impacts social interaction. Whether it will be good or bad for civilisation is yet to be seen but, at least with people like Musk, we might get the chance to find out.
Twitter is a private company, but it cannot ‘do what it likes’. The laws regarding the behaviour of social media platforms have been ignored by America’s political class because it suits them to allow Silicon Valley to control the flow of information. If the rules can’t be upheld, maybe it’s time to change the game.
Who cares if Musk profits from his share investment? He has never pretended to operate ‘for the greater good’. Rather, Musk is a man that smirks at the world and it winks back.
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