Is Elon Musk really the best person to buy Twitter?

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Elon Musk, self-proclaimed “Technoking,” “free speech absolutist,” and co-founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has now bought the social media app Twitter for a sum of 44 billion dollars. Many have seen this as a great decision, and of course others have condemned it. Elon Musk claims to have bought the app due to his personal values of free speech, promising to reduce censorship on the app. However, it’s also been noted that his political beliefs seem to change along with the success of his businesses. Whatever the case, this choice has caused quite the controversy, and everyone seems to have a different opinion, so is Elon Musk bad for the future of Twitter?
First, Twitter is a small, yet awfully influential social media platform, whose reputation precedes it as sparking endless controversy. The app is known for its supposedly crazy users, who are highly argumentative. Despite Elon Musk’s dedicated usage of Twitter, it’s not a very popular social media platform, apps such as TikTok and YouTube are far more commonly used. Twitter was previously most famously known for former president, Donald Trump, as he was banned from the app, now Elon Musk has brought attention back to the app with his posts and, of course, the recent announcement that Elon Musk has officially purchased all of Twitter. However, Elon Musk’s settlement may not alter the app for the better.
Elon Musk claims to have bought the app due to his core value regarding the first amendment, which are his beliefs in regards to free speech. Musk expressed dismay towards Twitter’s decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and it’s possible that Musk will reverse this decision once he takes over the app entirely; it’s important to note that Trump has no plans to return to Twitter as of now, though. Musk’s reduction of censorship on the app could also promote inappropriate “tweets” (a street name used for the messages sent on Twitter) including messages endorsing racial slurs, hate speech, spam messages and other inappropriate messaging. In the words of Michael Posner, who is associated with the company Forbes, “While Musk is right when he calls for greater transparency for social media algorithms his apparent vision of an unmoderated and therefore ‘free’ version of Twitter, constrained only by local law, makes no sense in practice.” After elaborating on the true restrictions of free speech, and how privately owned social media applications were always meant to have very little censorship and how Musk’s decision was borderline unnecessary.
The condoning of hate speech and harassment becomes a bigger issue when you consider another change Musk is planning to make: the addition of edit buttons to tweets. While this may sound like a positive change at face value, according to Bobby Allyn and NPR, “The fear among experts is that adding an edit button feature would be weaponized by bad actors, who could use it to cover up abuse or harassment as if it never happened, or to dupe or manipulate people.” Although experts have considered this possibility, I honestly do not believe that this should be a huge concern. The internet is a powerful tool, and as soon as Twitter’s users view a tweet that could be controversial in any sense, especially if it alludes to harrasment or discrimination, viewers will make certain that message never leaves the interenet. People screenshot and capture all sorts of messages, posts, and tweets to utilize in a negative manner; whether deserved or not. Therefore, I don’t believe that this change is truly the issue.
Other than the possible disregard of discriminatory and hateful messages by Twitter, there seem to be no noticeable changes that would truly better or worsen the user experience on Twitter. Elon Musk’s disputed actions within purchasing Twitter are inconsequential at best and endorsing harassment, hate speech and generally poor content at worst. While the idea of minimizing censorship online sounds beneficial at face value, this decision has very little, if any benefit. This controversial topic will either fizzle out within a few months due to the unvarying nature of the new ownership of the app, or a new debate will erupt concerning the rise in hate speech and badgering within these new tweets and posts. I suppose only time will tell.
Resources:
Allyn, B. (2022, April 25). Elon Musk bought Twitter. Here’s what he says he’ll do next. NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/2022/04/25/1094671225/elon-musk-bought-twitter-plans
Nast, C. (2022, April 21). Why Would Elon Musk Want to Buy Twitter? The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/infinite-scroll/why-would-elon-musk-want-to-buy-twitter
Posner, M. (2022, April 20). Why Elon Musk Would Be Bad For Twitter. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelposner/2022/04/20/why-elon-musk-would-be-bad-for-twitter/?sh=79dcc10720af