Widespread speculation about the consequences of Elon Musk’s recent offer to buy Twitter has produced some interesting narratives of hope, doubts, skepticism, and celebration.
Motivations aside, Musk’s actions have clearly upset members of the ‘fake news’ media, while those on the side of ‘truth and free speech’ are cheering him on.
Twitter’s reputation as a censor of viewpoints that do not support ‘official’ narratives on everything from climate change to Ukraine has been well earned. Even the president of the United States, Donald Trump, was banned from the social media site.
Paradoxically, Twitter claimed its right to censor and prohibit access under the premise that it is a private company (though publicly traded), while Musk now suggests that his purchase and private ownership of Twitter is the means to protect free speech on the site.
Meanwhile, efforts to control the public narrative by governments and politicians continue to go well beyond mere censorship. For example, Canada’s government is now in the process of forcing Facebook and Google to subsidize selected Canadian news outlets. So the battle to protect freedom of speech is far from over.
As a strategy for protecting free speech, it will remain to be seen whether Twitter’s possible change of status under Elon Musk proves to be Just Right, or whether it is but one small step in the Right direction.
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