Can Elon Musk reinvent/save social media? I wouldn't be against him.
Perhaps the world's most innovative/effective human up to the task? I can't think of anyone I'd rather have pushing social media in a more positive direction.
Elon Musk’s Hopeful Twitter Feed
Could he show there’s a market solution to Big Tech censorship?
By The Editorial BoardFollow
April 5, 2022 6:40 pm ET
Elon Musk often makes news with his Twitter posts, and rarely more than on Tuesday in confirming he has bought a 9.2% stake in the social-media firm. He’s now the single largest shareholder and has earned a seat on the board. Mr. Musk hasn’t disclosed his agenda for the company, but for now we’ll consider this a hopeful moment for political speech and debate at America’s increasingly censorious tech giants.
“Looking forward to working with [Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal ] & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months,” Mr. Musk tweeted Tuesday to his more than 80 million followers on the site. The cofounder of ventures ranging from Tesla, to SpaceX, to the Boring Company has frequently expressed disdain for Twitter’s heavy-handed censorship, which the company uses to silence prominent voices (e.g., Donald Trump ) and stifle views that disagree with the prevailing progressive consensus.
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” he tweeted last month. Mr. Musk has publicly flirted with creating a rival platform, but the barriers to success in that business are high. Perhaps he thinks he can accomplish more in the room where censorship happens.
Twitter executives appear cautiously open to his views, with Mr. Agrawal noting his new board colleague is “both a passionate believer and intense critic of the service which is exactly what we need.” One test will be if Twitter keeps making decisions like censoring the Babylon Bee, the conservative satirical website, for “misgendering” a Biden official (as The Hill put it).
Big Tech is becoming more aware of the perils—political, financial and legal—of serving as handmaiden to the woke speech police, but its executives remain too complicit or too afraid to do anything about it. They are courting a political backlash.
Mr. Musk is familiar with controversy on Twitter, as his tweets have sometimes aroused the attention of Washington financial regulators over disclosure rules. But in an age when too many CEOs lack the courage to express open support for core American principles, it would be refreshing if Mr. Musk’s intention is to stake some of his own wealth in the cause of promoting political free speech.
No doubt he also hopes to make money by improving the platform, which is 16 years old and growing slowly. The stock market was certainly keen on the Musk news, sending Twitter shares up 27% on Monday and another 2% on Tuesday.
Mr. Musk would do an additional public service if he shows that Big Tech censorship has a free-market solution. Politicians on the left and right are demanding a bigger role for government in regulating speech on social media, whether with more bureaucratic controls or antitrust suits that break up the companies. Republicans in particular should know better than to empower bureaucrats, and maybe Mr. Musk can show them a better way.