If we want to talk about Twitter regarding Elonem Muskem, it is necessary to understand why a social network in America with a blue bird in the character evokes so many emotions. Perhaps in no other country in the world does Twitter play a more important role in public debate than it does in the United States. Twitter raises topics, politicians and influential groups communicate through it, and if a few powerful accounts agree, it is able to push any agenda into the national media (and thus often beyond its borders).
A good example is the export of topics related to the American culture wars or the debate over specific legislation at the level of individual EU states. Both have no effect on us, however you may be able to read about it on the Czech website.
Moreover, as everyone will remember, it was Twitter that won Donald Trump the presidential election in 2016 and served as the main channel of communication for voters and opponents for the next four years.
Because of all of the above, both sides of the political spectrum are trying to take control of Twitter and use it as a communication platform through which the American community can move. With Musk seen as a supporter of the right, Democrats there are sounding the alarm, while Republicans are likely to celebrate.
After all, even the reaction of politicians from both major parties shows that neither of the political spectrum is about maintaining democracy or freedom of expression, but rather about building a power base on the network. However, the main question is whether the eccentric billionaire is something similar.
Personally, I don’t like that. Musk doesn’t want to use Twitter to pursue his own political ambitions, which he probably doesn’t have. Born in South Africa, he cannot run for President of the United States and has always been rejected for Congress.
Even if he wanted to be elected to the legislature, he wouldn’t need to buy his own social network for tens of billions of dollars as the richest man on the planet. Elections will cost him much less.
Likewise, Elon Musk, as part of the American Right, will not arrange the return of Donald Trump to Twitter. The former president has already announced that he prefers to stay on his own social network, Truth.
Possibly the first person who could release Musk from a virtual prison would be the discreetly restrained satirist Babylon Bee, whom Musk loves and with whom he gave an interview that lasted more than an hour. At the same time, he himself does not support the instructive deletion of accounts as such.
In my opinion, there are also concerns that the new owner will turn Twitter into a hotbed of disinformation, hate and other content of questionable veracity. Twitter has always been more specific and relaxed in this regard. It has more informal rules than its competitors, which, for example, allow for explicit presentation of erotic content.
In contrast to Twitter’s ability to set the agenda, the disinformation and potential for polarization are much lower than, say, with Facebook or TikTok. This is a network with relatively few users and is often more educated, and there is also a strong generation gap. For example, only about 2% of current American teens use Twitter.
Musk himself says that he is primarily concerned with freedom of expression, and therefore intends to turn Twitter into an imaginary oasis of freedom. At the same time, South Africa’s fear of freedom of expression is not a pervasive problem, but something that resonates real with American society.
For example, according to a large-scale libertarian survey conducted by the Cato Institute in the summer of 2020, 62 percent of Americans surveyed are afraid to share some of their opinions because of the political climate, where others might find them offensive, which could have consequences for their bearers. In addition, given the tight time around the coronavirus and the deteriorating international situation, it can be assumed that many feel that this sentiment has deepened.
And so it seems that Musk sees the trade deal as a small mission to save civilization. And it is, after all, an idea intertwined with his entire work. The billionaire’s statement that he wants to unlock the huge potential of Twitter is consistent with this vision.
However, for now, Musk appears to have no idea what he should do and, far from his belief in maximum freedom of speech, does not have a deeper (action) plan. As Megan McArdle, for example, rightly pointed out in her text for Washington PostChanging Twitter “for the better” will be much more difficult than buying it, and Musk will have to deal not only with ignorance of the business of social media, but also with the company’s employees themselves, who may not like his ideas.
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