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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Why Elon Musk’s Twitter makes a huge difference

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Bianca Oppedisano
Elon Musk stands against a patterned background. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

After back-and-forth negotiations, Elon Musk finally succeeded to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Unpredictability was the name of the game when he initially purchased a 9 percent stake in the social media giant but refused to sit on the board of the company. Wall Street bankers are now betting on Elon Musk, and not Twitter itself, calling it the sale of the century. Musk’s ideology behind the purchase is rooted in the idea of free speech. Free speech in the past has also proven to be a dangerous source of misinformation. Musk also called himself a “free speech advocate” on Twitter prior to the sale.
Musk held a poll on his Twitter account on March 25 with the topic being: “Free Speech is essential to a functioning democracy, do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” He also explained that the consequences of the poll will be important, and the results were a 70 percent negative. When this happened, naturally, tech enthusiasts like me, knowing Elon Musk’s approach pattern, suspected that his involvement in Twitter was right around the corner. Very well, it was seen that he indeed made his first move by purchasing the initial 9 percent stake and then buying the company completely.
What type of free speech is Twitter 2.0 looking at? Pure, uncensored and straight-from-mind-to-keyboard free speech. This could mean undoing several actions that the company has taken in the past to regulate information flow within the platform. Veteran employees are already panicking at the fact that Elon tends to directly imply the First Amendment as the basic rule of the platform. This means content that is graphic, untrue in nature, violent, and all other types of content will be spread across the platform. But knowing Elon Musk, it can never be simple as that. He is tech-savvy and a true visionary with his contributions to society as previously observed. Expectations are that under his direction, Twitter will find a way to exercise free speech while making sure that the right content reaches the right audience. Something that social media companies have a tough time addressing even today is the regulation of users’ content.
The sale also means restructuring. Of course, restructuring means people who are the staunchest believers of Twitter’s old ways of working must go. This is something to be expected, and selective layoffs may happen at some point in the future. The reason for the sale is clearly not financial, as Musk stated, and this means the sale is based on a deeper idea and people not in line with this idea must be shown the door. This is classic corporate restructuring, and it could be just a matter of time before the company sees this happen. Although, CEO Parag Agrawal said that there are no layoffs at this time.
Safety has always been a concern for Twitter, and Elon Musk’s new enforcement of his free speech absolutism might prove to undermine previous efforts taken by the company. Free speech, after all, depends on the source and could play a challenging role in ensuring the safety of the users on the platform. Twitter 2.0 under Musk could result in it being a war zone among other free speech absolutists, or it could potentially be a platform for users of all ages to debate on any topic with the idea of “pure free speech.” What can you post on Twitter according to Musk’s ideals? Pretty much anything and everything. While it is an admirable idea to promote users to speak their minds, not all minds are rational and looking to provide beneficial information and could use the platform to cause some amount of damage in the real world. What if the idea is a battle of good mind voices vs bad mind voices to debate on Twitter to prove rationality always wins or there is meaning in irrationality as well? Could Twitter do to social media what cryptocurrency is doing to money? Twitter 2.0 is coming out with brute force and the world is gearing up to get a sense of that “true free speech.”

About the Contributors
Preetan Natesh, News Writer
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator