I began to suspect Elon Musk was considering creating a social networking site around a year ago. Then the hints became more frequent, and ultimately, last weekend, he confirmed that he is really contemplating it. I can’t think of a more qualified individual to create a new social networking site. It is critically needed by the whole planet.
When it comes to social media, I’m constantly conflicted. On the one hand, it has provided me and many others with wonderful opportunities. When I had to reestablish my own company following a health catastrophe that almost killed me and put me on my deathbed for two years, it was crucial. That would have required a lot more time, money, and effort if it hadn’t existed. However, social media has also exacerbated unimaginable levels of the divide — and not only in the ways that we can all see.
Sure, we’ve all seen conflicts between immature and poisonous individuals who can’t tolerate opposing viewpoints. “OMG!” exclamation point You’re a [insert insult here] because you don’t agree with 100% of what I think!” sort of remark that appears practically immediately after anything is posted. However, there is another, less visible way that social media divides people, and it is produced directly by the social media firms themselves. They accomplish this by arbitrarily enforcing their terms of service, restricting opposing viewpoints, and shadowbanning people who hold opposing viewpoints.
We’ve all seen plenty such instances in the real world. One person will be banned for publishing something, while another will be able to post the identical thing with no repercussions. Alternatively, a user may be penalised retrospectively for a post made many years ago that did not violate the rules of service at the time. Alternatively, a user may be removed from a site for allegedly distributing “misinformation,” which, although a legitimate concern in our debate, is often exploited as a trendy phrase to discredit someone.
These social media companies often claim that they are punishing particular users in an attempt to combat disinformation, but this is just PR fluff. Facebook’s fact checkers have stated under oath that they are not posting verifiable facts, but rather their own personal judgments. It’s also worth mentioning that many of the most well-known tales that have been labelled “misinformation” by social media sites and for which numerous people have been removed have proven out to be accurate. For a long time, Musk has been critical of social media sites in this regard.
It may be claimed that since they are private firms, they have complete freedom to do anything they want, including blocking any information on their platform for any reason. I agree with the idea in general. The issue is that these corporations’ rhetoric and actions are simply incompatible. That, in my opinion, is misleading advertising. A firm should not be allowed to claim to offer a fair and impartial social media platform while censoring opposing viewpoints. It also shouldn’t be allowed to enforce its terms of service on a case-by-case basis. It should either be really neutral or declare that it isn’t, and it should apply its terms of service to everyone equally and consistently. Otherwise, it’s not actually the “terms of service” of the corporation, is it?
As a consequence of this biassed conduct, various new social media platforms, such as Parler, Gab, Gettr, and Truth Social, have been developed in recent years to provide an atmosphere that fosters free and open conversation. However, none of these have yet shown to be especially effective. That’s because there are three criteria that must be present for a social media platform to be effective, and none of the recent platforms have gotten them right. Musk, on the other hand, looks to be in a unique position to disrupt the status quo.
The platform is driven by a compelling mission
Clubhouse exploded in popularity during the epidemic because it allowed huge groups of people to interact in real time — something that had been taken away from them during the lockdowns. This compelling goal aided in the development of the type of early momentum required for any platform’s success. Many of the other newly created platforms I described earlier also had a great aim – free and open discourse — but they failed to take off for a different reason, which we’ll discuss later.
The platform Musk seems to be planning to establish similarly has a free and open discourse as its goal. And, since there’s already a lot of demand for it, as seen by user posts and comments on popular platforms in general, as well as replies to Musk’s recent poll, which received over two million votes, this won’t be simply another platform seeking for a purpose to exist.
Its user base is expanding in a positive way
Any new social media network must quickly get a large number of new users in order to gain the momentum required for success. Then it has to maintain existing consumers while also acquiring new ones on a regular basis. It’s a lot simpler to say than it is to accomplish.
The clubhouse did it right by rapidly increasing its user base when it first became popular in late 2021, but it struggled to maintain that growth and, as a result, never achieved the critical mass needed to become a viable platform. Existing users left as a result of the company’s many errors. New users were deterred from enrolling because of the same faults.
I don’t think Musk will have a problem acquiring enough new users to create the necessary momentum, nor will he have a problem keeping them or continuing to acquire new users, because he has a globally recognised and generally respected personal brand that spans people across a wide range of political and social ideologies.
A broad range of perspectives
Many of these newly released platforms have struggled to gain traction since their user base is mostly homogeneous. While this may be a relaxing setting for some, it rapidly becomes an echo chamber for others.
Because Facebook’s algorithm tailors our feeds to show us what we agree with, I blame it for this tendency. As a consequence, individuals believe that the majority of other people agree with them, and that everyone who disagrees is either dumb or insane, which any logical person knows is just not true. This mentality is also harmful to society. However, in order to create a community where like-minded individuals may freely connect, various social media sites have just reinforced that attitude. “Good initiative, lousy judgment,” we used to say in the Marine Corps.
What Musk seems to be planning, on the other hand, isn’t founded on any political or social doctrine. Rather, it is founded on a single fundamental principle: free expression is necessary for a functioning democracy. And since he appeals to individuals from many walks of life, the platform will draw a varied spectrum of perspectives.
Yes, there will be arguments, and many of them will likely get extremely heated. However, the fact that individuals can have these discussions without fear of being restricted implies increased involvement, which may lead to more and better business prospects. It may also contribute to a better society by allowing individuals to communicate with others who have alternative viewpoints.
So, is Elon Musk ready to create a new social networking platform? Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Because the present platforms have done such a poor job of establishing an atmosphere where everyone can feel secure sharing their thoughts, the market is anxiously anticipating something better, and Musk is well positioned to provide that desire.