Oct 27, 2022

Twitter Is Now Owned by Elon Musk. But Fulfilling His Free Speech Promise Will Be an Uphill Battle.

The richest man in the world walked into the Twitter headquarters carrying a sink. “Let that sink in.”
Twitter Is Now Owned by Elon Musk. But Fulfilling His Free Speech Promise Will Be an Uphill Battle.

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It’s happening: After a monthslong saga, Twitter will be suspended from public trading and taken private tomorrow, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk as the new owner. The deal was closed at $44 billion with Musk’s original offer to buy the company at $54.20 per share.

Musk’s vision: This morning, Musk said he acquired Twitter because of the importance of a digital town square where ideas can be respectfully debated and because of his concerns that alternatives would become extreme echo chambers. Still, he emphasized Twitter would not turn into a “free-for-all hellscape,” consistent with his past reasoning that Twitter should be equally hard on both extremes of the political spectrum and in line with the First Amendment.

Why is this so important?

Twitter is an extremely influential platform when it comes to domestic and global politics.

Domestic politics: Twitter played a major part in protecting Joe Biden in the 2020 election; it censored the Hunter Biden laptop story that likely would have changed the race's outcome. The platform also coordinated with the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to censor now-accepted vaccine concerns. On the eve of Musk’s takeover, the legacy media is concerned that Musk’s free speech initiative “could erode Americans’ faith in the electoral process” and sway midterms. Musk also suggested he would lift the company’s ban on former president Donald Trump.

Global influence: As reported by The Washington Post, Twitter plays a pivotal role in global politics. Intelligence officials even warned that weakening Big Tech platforms would threaten national security because of their ability to influence global narratives.

If Musk fulfills his promise, a central online platform, rather than smaller echo chambers, would allow people to converse freely without government censorship. Some analysts expect this to be an uphill battle considering what’s at stake. Twitter could be removed from mobile application stores, as Parler was. And the Biden administration is considering investigating Musk’s Twitter over national security concerns.

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