With 330 million monthly active users, Twitter is far less popular than Facebook, which has 2.85 billion. Even yet, it plays an outsized role in the public debates due to journalists and politicians using it as a meeting place. This view that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become essential components of contemporary democracies and should be handled more like public utilities is fed by the echo chamber generated by overconfident individuals.
Many on the right were worried that the resignation of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey would turn the platform into a vehicle for censorship and authoritarian control — not because Dorsey had been particularly good about upholding free speech values, but because he had resisted the U.S. Congress’ push to impose controls on the platform. Leftists are now outraged by Elon Musk’s plan to purchase Twitter for $43 billion and take it private, the son of a Saskatchewan-born dietician who briefly attended Queen’s before heading to the United States and becoming the world’s wealthiest man.
For Musk, freedom of expression “is a social requirement for a functioning democracy.” He calls himself a “free speech absolutist” and believes Twitter “has the potential to be the medium for free speech throughout the world.” There is a lot of skepticism among liberals who enjoy tweeting about how they are morally superior because they drive Teslas because they fear that anyone could amass a US$260-billion fortune from selling them.
Prominent media outlets “The news seems like the twilight of Weimar Germany,” according to Prof. Jeff Jarvis. It might “result in World War 3 and the annihilation of our planet,” according to journalist and author David Leavitt. Lilah Sturges, a transgender writer, predicted that Twitter “would become absolutely inhospitable for trans people (and many other people).”
In the words of tech columnist Navneet Alang, “No company that is as vital to the functioning of modern societies should even be in a position to be snapped up by a billionaire.” If Twitter were an essential institution, this argument might be made; nevertheless, 139 years of Canadian democracy before Twitter shows that we can get by just fine without it.
It is more problematic to have an increasing number of people, including many in the media, who were formerly ardent advocates of free speech and the press, now feel that in order to prevent tyranny we must limit freedom of speech.
Twitter acquisition by Elon Musk would have a profound influence on society and politics, tweeted Washington Post writer Max Boot. Anything goes on Facebook, according to him. More content moderation rather than less is needed for democracy to thrive.
It’s impossible to exaggerate how significant this comment is in the grand scheme of things. Once again, it is the unfree nations that have imposed restrictions on free speech in order to keep their people from learning the truth and causing a revolution. Allowing people to come together to discuss public problems and replace those in power with peaceful methods is the cornerstone of democracy.
They were aware that any limits on expression may be used against them in the future, and both sides understood this. This is a well-known fact that many appear to have forgotten, maybe as a result of a reinterpretation of what free expression means.
According to Alang, “Musk’s notion of free speech… is very transparently immature,” since “on the web, unmoderated areas are deeply unfree because they fill up with hatred and abuse, suppressing all save the loudest and most powerful—among whom Musk is clearly both.”
Social media is spreading disinformation that is harming society, he’s totally accurate. It has never meant that everyone’s voice is equally loud—only that everyone has the freedom to express themselves without fear of reprisal.
If you believe that just placing additional regulations on social media would stop the propagation of disinformation, you’re kidding yourself. If Twitter begins to restrict certain users, they will either leave or build their own social network. Those who formerly fretted about giant tech corporations becoming “gatekeepers” of the internet, but are now enraged that Musk wants to eliminate Twitter’s gatekeeper role, have tacitly realized this. To have a forum where individuals may argue, they must be able to do so without fear of retribution.
Source: Jesse Kline National Post