Elon Musk wants his version of free speech on Twitter for Trump and Co. Be afraid, be very afraid

“Twitter has extraordinary potential,” Elon Musk has written in a letter to the chairman of Twitter, explaining his bid to take over the social media agency. “I will unlock it.”

That potential, as anybody who has ever been trolled or witnessed the idiocy and rudeness of feedback on unpoliced web sites will know, is for Twitter to sink far and quick right into a digital cesspit.

“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe,” Musk mentioned in a letter despatched to Bret Taylor on Wednesday. “I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”

For Musk this in all probability means the power to gratuitously insult individuals, as he did when calling British caver Vernon Unsworth a “pedo guy” in 2018. Miraculously, he was cleared of libel by a US jury. However then, multi-multibillionaire Musk pays for the very best attorneys and afford to not fear if defamation instances don’t go his approach.

Musk envisages a vivid new social media daybreak, wherein oppressed, white, heterosexual males, are lastly capable of say what they suppose with out being cancelled with accusations of sexism, racism and homophobia.

With Musk in cost, the perma-tanned baboon of Mar-a- Lago, would little doubt be one of many first creatures let out to pollute the entrails of Twittersphere.

The case of Donald Trump, who used the social media website to deceive his acolytes about all the things from Covid to the riot he backed on the Capitol, throws into the sharpest aid the crux of the argument in opposition to full freedom of speech – and Musk’s management of Twitter.

Freedom of speech is sweet. I help it, together with the correct to say issues that I or different individuals could discover offensive (I’ve simply known as Donald Trump a baboon, in spite of everything). I anticipate most, if not all, i readers do. However even freedom of speech ought to have limits. They’re enshrined in our legal guidelines – to discourage incitement, hate speech and defamation.

Social media websites wrestle to dam such abuse now. We don’t need Musk giving a greenlight to the deplorables.

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His bid for Twitter raises as soon as once more the vexed topic of the facility of social media corporations – digital colossuses with the potential to swing elections and undermine public well being.

Social media teams have eliminated the propagation of concepts and data from the monopoly of the normal media. However they’ve but to use requirements of editorial management or face proportionate regulation.

The avarice of Fb is unhealthy sufficient. Mark Zuckerberg’s repute as an enlightened prophet of the digital age has plummeted as Fb confronted scandal after scandal, typically revealed by whistle-blowing ex-employees, for its failure to take away pretend information and political extremism, to the best way it handles customers’ knowledge.

Zuckerberg can say his firm has helped join individuals all over the world. Via his charity work, he’s poured billions into initiatives for curing the world’s ailments.

The thought of getting an individual like Elon Musk answerable for such a strong social media group is extra miserable.

Musk may effectively be a technical genius and one in-a -generation inventor. He definitely has a unprecedented present for self-promotion. However for somebody so feted by many (together with himself), for his mind energy, key facets of his intelligence appear depressingly absent. His social expertise are onerous to detect. He has the empathy of a moray eel.

Mr Musk has lengthy used Twitter to insult critics, and troll short-sellers of his automotive agency Tesla. He has additionally unfold false details about the pandemic. He mused on Twitter about taking Tesla personal in a tweet in 2018 and inaccurately claimed he had secured funding for the transaction, after which he was fined $40m by the Securities Trade Commission buying and selling watchdog.

Even good causes haven’t been spared his puerile trolling.
In some of the pathetic examples David Beasley, director of the UN’s World Meals Programme (WFP) final November challenged the world’s ultra-wealthy – and specifically the world’s two richest males Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – to “step up now, on a one-time basis” to assist resolve world starvation in an interview with CNN.

Collectively the pair are price half a TRILLION {dollars}.

Beasley instructed {that a} donation of “$6bn, to help 42 million people who are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated”.

That’s about 2 per cent of Musk’s internet wealth of $275 bn.
The Tesla chief responded on Twitter: “If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6bn will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it.”

Some individuals detected a notice of scorn from the thin-skinned tech billionaire as he demanded proof that such largess wouldn’t be squandered.

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“Please publish your current & proposed spending in detail so people can see exactly where money goes. Sunlight is a wonderful thing,” Musk mentioned.

Beasley did simply that, offering proof of transparency and open-source accounting, however by no means heard again from Musk.

If his present Twitter takeover supply is just not accepted (although some buyers don’t imagine he has $43bn in liquidity he wants) Musk says he’ll “need to reconsider” his place as a shareholder.

You do this, Mr Musk. Promote Twitter. Use the proceeds to construct your Mars rocket. Go there.

In the meantime, grown-ups within the US Congress and parliaments all over the world must chew the bullet and legislate to curb the facility of the social media giants.

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