Elon Musk, Twitter and free speech

Elon Musk wants to put his free speech absolutism to the test on Twitter. What will that look like in practice when all the rules and content moderation are removed?

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Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition

Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington, on March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Elon Musk is buying Twitter for $44 billion. A frequent user and critic of the social media platform, Musk has said he wants to bring unfettered free speech to what he calls a “digital town square.” Many have raised questions about Musk’s motivation, vision and leadership for a platform that already faces challenges addressing harassment, disinformation, hate speech and misogyny among its users.

So how might Musk remake Twitter, and what will his free speech absolutism look like in practice, when all the rules and any content moderation are removed? And should we worry about another tech billionaire controlling our content and media, joining the likes of Jeff Bezos, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg.


Issie Lapowsky, chief correspondent for the tech news site Protocol, where she covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs.@issielapowsky

David Kaye, law professor at the University of Irvine, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the author of Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet. @davidakaye

Read more

CNBC, Elon Musk says he wants free speech, but his track record suggests otherwise – “Musk’s free speech advocacy seems to apply mostly to his own speech or that of his fans and promoters. When it comes to his employees’ free speech, Musk demonstrates little tolerance.”

Wired, Twitter Insiders Fear Elon Musk Heralds a Troll Takeover – “Employees and moderation advisers say loosening the platform’s rules would bring on an era of increased toxicity, causing users from marginalized backgrounds to flee.”

New York Times, Elon Musk Got Twitter Because He Gets Twitter – “Betting against Musk has made fools of many in recent years. But I count myself, still, as a cautious believer in Musk’s power to do the impossible — in this case, to expose what Twitter is and to right-size its influence.”

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