Opinion: Elon Musk is the last person who should take over Twitter

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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By Max Boot
Columnist |
Yesterday at 1:56 p.m. EDT


I woke up Thursday morning to the news that Elon Musk, the world’s richest troll, wants to buy Twitter, one of the world’s most influential social media platforms. So I went on Twitter and wrote: “I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.”
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The hyperbolic reaction was a sight to behold. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who had one of her Twitter accounts permanently suspended for spreading covid-19 misinformation, tweeted: “Kill freedom of speech to save democracy? Say you’re a communist.” Should I be worried that she might send the gazpacho police after me?
The only disagreement among the trolls seemed to be whether I’m promoting communism or “FASCISM.” “Democracy requires attacks on the culture of free speech, more authoritarianism, says WP guy,” sneered Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway, who had recently insinuated that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was pro-pedophile for voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. “More censorship for US geopolitical interest?” tweeted a columnist for China Daily, the propaganda organ of a state that has some of the most extensive censorship in the world.
Thank you for making my point, trolls. There is way too much nonsense online — too much name-calling, too much dishonesty, too many conspiracy theories. And there is a disturbing tendency for online flash mobs to create an echo chamber of crackpot opinions.
Molly Roberts: Twitter is a toy Elon Musk can’t wait to start playing with
The notion that content moderation is communism or fascism is typical of the inanities that pervade social media. If this were true, it would mean that the United States was under fascist rule when I was growing up in the 1980s. Back then, most people got their news from a daily newspaper or one of three major TV networks. All of them employed editors (a.k.a. content moderators) who would have never run the kind of wild-eyed claims that have become a mainstay on social media (e.g., the allegation that the Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol was a “false flag” operation by the FBI or that the Democratic Party has been taken over by Satan-worshipping pedophiles). It’s no coincidence that politics was saner and less polarized in those days.


As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt of New York University writes in the Atlantic this week, Facebook’s “like” button and Twitter’s retweet function have helped to make some Americans “stupider.” Before those features existed, people saw comments in the order they were posted. Now, social media companies use algorithms to promote the most popular posts. “Later research showed,” Haidt notes, “that posts that trigger emotions — especially anger at out-groups — are the most likely to be shared.”
Cue the online flash mobs of the sort that briefly converged around my tweet about Musk before moving on to some fresh “outrage.” Haidt writes that “this new game encouraged dishonesty and mob dynamics,” bringing out “our most moralistic and least reflective selves” and creating a shocking “volume of outrage.”
Political extremists dominate social media, Haidt says. A survey in 2017-2018 found that 70 percent of those called progressive activists had shared political content over the previous year, while the far right was the second-most prolific, at 56 percent. Most normal people don’t post any political content at all, but they are shaped by what they see from the extremes. “Recent academic studies suggest,” Haidt writes, “that social media is indeed corrosive to trust in governments, news media, and people and institutions in general. … Social media amplifies political polarization; foments populism, especially right-wing populism; and is associated with the spread of misinformation.”
Adam Lashinsky: Why Elon Musk is buying up Twitter
In addition to sounding the alarm about the impact of social media, Haidt offers some sensible suggestions for ameliorating its worst effects. For example, he writes, just as banks have “know your customer” rules, so should large social media platforms: “Before a platform spreads your words to millions of people, it has an obligation to verify (perhaps through a third party or nonprofit) that you are a real human being, in a particular country, and are old enough to be using the platform.” He argues that this change could wipe out “hundreds of millions of bots and fake accounts” and “reduce the frequency of death threats, rape threats, racist nastiness, and trolling more generally,” because “antisocial behavior becomes more common online when people feel that their identity is unknown and untraceable.”
This kind of badly needed reform is unlikely to occur at Twitter if Musk, who calls himself a “free-speech absolutist,” succeeds in buying the company. He engages in online bullying and traffics in hyperbole and outrage, such as comparing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler for imposing public health regulations.
That’s why I am so concerned about what his takeover bid means, not just for Twitter but for our embattled democracy. Anyone who thinks the problem with social media is too much content moderation, rather than too little, should not own one of the most powerful platforms online.

 
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pjhawk

HR Legend
Oct 13, 2001
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There's multiple reasons that Musk taking over twitter will destroy it. He's a Trump so he'll make it all about him, and if you really believe that Elon freaking Musk isn't gonna be censoring and favoring certain "speech" over other "speech" than I can't even.

Max Boot is just proving he shouldn't be listened to you on anything if he's going with the Musk "anything goes" bullshit.

It'll be "anything goes" only for stuff that Musk approves of as in the "anything goes" category. Control freaks aren't "anything goes" about anything.
 

FlickShagwell

HR Legend
Gold Member
Jun 16, 2003
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Omaha, NE
I really don't get the big issue here, not to be a contrarian. When the right was losing its shit over Trump getting booted (way too late, if you ask me. That wasn't Elon Musk dragging his feet on kicking an anti-democratic troll off the platform; it’s not like Twitter has been the gold standard for democracy previously.) and yammering about "free speech" my thoughts were, it's a private space, rules are rules (no matter how lazily enforced). My advice at the time was to start their own platform where they could share conspiracy theories and work themselves into a lather over CRT and men in little girls' bathrooms, and how every person in America who identifies with the Democrats are "groomers." And they did, or at least tried to. Trump cheated a bunch of them out of their hard earned money. It was funny to watch.

Why can’t those of us who care about discourse unpoisoned by whatever the looney right hallucinates this week start our own thing? If Twitter becomes a wasteland where Don Jr. is a thought leader, Kylie Jenner and Rehanna aren’t going to hang around. They’ll go to wherever there are a lot of people who don’t regularly eat their own shit.
 

FAUlty Gator

HR Legend
Oct 27, 2017
29,148
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I really don't get the big issue here, not to be a contrarian. When the right was losing its shit over Trump getting booted (way too late, if you ask me. That wasn't Elon Musk dragging his feet on kicking an anti-democratic troll off the platform; it’s not like Twitter has been the gold standard for democracy previously.) and yammering about "free speech" my thoughts were, it's a private space, rules are rules (no matter how lazily enforced). My advice at the time was to start their own platform where they could share conspiracy theories and work themselves into a lather over CRT and men in little girls' bathrooms, and how every person in America who identifies with the Democrats are "groomers." And they did, or at least tried to. Trump cheated a bunch of them out of their hard earned money. It was funny to watch.

Why can’t those of us who care about discourse unpoisoned by whatever the looney right hallucinates this week start our own thing? If Twitter becomes a wasteland where Don Jr. is a thought leader, Kylie Jenner and Rehanna aren’t going to hang around. They’ll go to wherever there are a lot of people who don’t regularly eat their own shit.
This. 100% this.
 

Sooner-Be-Dead

HR Heisman
Sep 2, 2003
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Bought calls on TWTR because it will be shopping around to Microsoft and others to avoid being owned by Elon.