Elon Musk & Twitter: Was His Investment About Free Speech?
How It All Started
Originally, Elon Musk argued that his reasoning for buying Twitter for $44 billion was to “try to help humanity”.
However, recent events have sent Twitter on a downward spiral.
In the time that Musk came took over control, he has fired the previous executive team, removed approximately half of the company’s workforce (via email), suspended several users for impersonation of public figures (including himself) & received backlash from the UN for banning reporters.
What About The Employees?
Former executive Yoel Roth said that Elon Musk is running Twitter “like a dictator”. Roth resigned from Twitter in November.
He justified his resignation by explaining that half of the company’s 8,000 workers were fired, including 15% of the trust & safety department. Roth also disagreed with the poll that reinstated Donald Trump.
In terms of his employees, Elon Musk has recently fired several people using short & satirical emails or simply removing their access to the company’s laptop. He also expected workers to regularly fly in for meetings when most worked online.
Advertising giants such as IPG’s Mediabrands have temporarily opted out of using Twitter as a promotional platform. Other companies like Balenciaga aren’t going to use Twitter as a social media platform anymore too.
He also issued an $8 fee to obtain a “verified” account & it’s creating problems.
People are randomly buying the “verified” mark & opening accounts impersonating celebrities & companies - while also spreading hate speech & writing ridiculous things on Twitter. These accounts look incredibly realistic because Musk has added a feature that allows everyone to have a verified badge on Twitter - if they pay for it.
Meanwhile, Musk has suspended others that impersonated him as a joke because it seemingly offended him, arguing that per Twitter’s “guidelines”, the profiles didn’t clearly state “parody” on them.
While imitation has always been prohibited, Twitter has never just immediately banned users for doing this… until Musk.
"Make Comedy Legal"
There doesn’t seem to be any clarity as to who gets banned & who doesn’t, especially when it comes to regulating hate speech directed at marginalised communities.
Before Musk, a website called Babylon Bee was suspended from Twitter for making a transphobic joke. In short, they called a transgender woman the “man of the year”.
Despite this Tweet being transphobic Musk contacted the website's CEO to tell him that he will buy Twitter to “make comedy legal” again.
In comparison, Kathy Griffin impersonated Musk as a joke on Twitter & got her account suspended. Musk then joked that Griffin could get her account back if she pays $8.
Freedom Of Speech
Impersonation gets an account suspended but a transphobic “joke” is somehow accepted. The reality should be that neither one is allowed. Whether intentional or not, many are concerned that Twitter is morphing into a platform where the privileged can state their hateful views without any consequences.
It’s almost as if Elon Musk sits atop his $200 billion tower, watching the chaos below as others are left to just roll with the punches of his decisions.
Then again, this tower might soon come tumbling down. He recently released a poll asking whether he should step down, & 57.5% said yes. If free speech really is his priority, maybe it’s time to listen to the people.