Twitter has always been my social media platform of choice. The atmosphere was fun, making me instantly fall in love with it. In addition, I was able to find other weirdos like me to talk about Apple products, Batman and have open conversations with them. Over time, with my newfound group of online friends, I felt obligated to stay. It was my internet home, after all.
After billionaire Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44 billion, more and more discourse about “free speech” continues to bleed into everyone’s walled gardens. Some have even begun talks about leaving Twitter altogether. This is a mistake, in my opinion.
I am not here to say that Elon Musk will be good or bad for the company; that is yet to be determined — if the deal ever goes through — what I am saying is that Musk’s recent tweets and statements are alarming many.
Furthermore, Twitter employees have raised their concerns in a recent all-hands meeting. Casey Newton wrote about the meeting and shared several items discussed between Twitter employees and Twitter’s CEO, Parag Agrawal. One thing I think is indicative of what Twitter’s leadership wants from this deal is Agrawal’s final statements in the meeting:
Agrawal concluded by asking employees to “embrace change.”
“Let’s embrace change. Let’s embrace uncertainty,” he said. “If we see this as an opportunity, it will manifest as an opportunity. If we see this as doom and gloom, it will manifest as doom and gloom.”
As of now, it seems not many people have left the platform, and some say most will stay on the platform even after Musk takes control. The reason for this is, as Jeremy W. Peters says in his New York Times piece, is Twitter is too big to cancel.
The way both ends of the partisan spectrum are perceiving the Musk deal probably oversimplifies the reality of what his leadership would do to the platform — not to mention how it could be a folly to predict the whims of an eccentric billionaire whose political views are rife with inconsistencies.
I can’t help but agree with this sentiment. Leaving after just an announcement of Elon taking over, Twitter is putting the cart well in front of the horse. Of course, the other side of that coin is true for those who were encouraged to join after the announcement.
It’s nearly impossible to tell what Musk and the rest of Twitter’s leadership will do in the next six months after the deal is done. Hell, it is impossible to know what Twitter or Elon will do tomorrow.
Content Moderation is not Censorship
After talks about buying Twitter began, Musk tweeted this in hopes it would explain his stance on “free speech,” when in reality, it poured gasoline onto the proverbial fire.
I feel that Eric Newcomer explained things much better in his piece, Why Are Reporters So Opposed to “Free Speech”?.
Newcomer continues in his piece where he delves into the heart of his question and explains how reporters and journalists have disdain for Musk’s version of “free speech.”
Newsrooms debate passionately about what stories deserve the highest billing on their homepage. But social media companies have just been distributing whatever superficially appeals to readers. The idea that social media sites take so little responsibility for the quality of content that’s being pushed to millions or billions of people is endlessly frustrating to journalists who spend far more time worrying about what they publish to their much smaller audiences.
I spend hours every week curating, researching, writing, editing, and fact-checking this newsletter I send once a week. I take it seriously because it is crucial that I get things right and have the knowledge and sources to back up my claims and takes.
When I stated that I hope Twitter keeps moderation on the platform, I didn’t mean that they should block and report anyone with differing opinions. On the contrary, nuance and discussions from different perspectives are essential — healthy even. What isn’t healthy are situations like misgendering someone just for the sake of hurting them, hateful comments against women a la Gamergate, antisemitic remarks, and pro-KKK positions — all of which are legal in the United States. It is one thing to have a meaningful discussion about something respectfully; it is another thing to have a superiority complex over someone because of their gender, race, or religion.
With that in mind, you’re damn right I don’t want Twitter to be filled with “legal” content that includes fascist propaganda for Nazis, the KKK, trans hate, and other awful but lawful content.
I am staying on Twitter because I don’t think the platform is doomed because of Musk. That remains to be seen. I am staying here because this is my home online, and I will continue to treat it as such.
I am sure there will be more and more skepticism regarding this Twitter deal as things progress, but I feel that this will be my last piece directly about this Musk and Twitter deal, that is until something is put into motion.