So Elon Musk is planning on buying Twitter. I say “planning” here because the deal hasn’t closed. But let’s assume it happens. What will it mean?
Not a Musk fan
I’ll be blunt: Elon Musk is a charlatan who gets a lot more credit than he deserves. I don’t doubt he’s a smart person, but being the richest person on the planet has allowed him to engage in unrestrained buffoonery. Whatever his areas of expertise, they clearly don’t extend to understanding tunnels. The best thing he could do would be to leave Twitter alone, but you don’t spend $44 billion to not play with you new toy.
But free speech!
No. Elon Musk doesn’t believe in free speech. He canceled someone’s Tesla order for saying mean things. “Free speech” arguments are almost never about anything other than “I should be allowed to say what I want without consequences.”
Free speech, as envisioned by absolutists, is only free for those with power. If your free speech is used to harass others into silence, the platform does not promote free speech. I’m fine with letting the Nazis and democracy subverters go off to any of the other Twitter-like sites they’ve set up.
So what next?
The key question is “to the degree they left, will the Nazis and democracy subverters come back to Twitter?” I can’t say. For now, I’m not planning to leave Twitter. If it becomes intolerable, I’ll go. To where? Good question! Mastodon holds no appeal to me for a variety of reasons, but maybe I’ll move there at some point. Maybe I’ll just drop that form of social media from my life.
It seems more likely to me that Musk will discover that running a social media site is less fun than criticizing a social media site and get bored. He does have two other companies to run already. Three if you take The Boring Company seriously. While he certainly could do damage, I hope that it remains the shitty hellsite we’ve come to hate. After all, Twitter has mostly succeeded in spite of itself.