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College kids weigh in: Will Twitter Succeed

Sam Harris, Megyn Kelly, John Kass, and Dave Rubin are all successful, responsible journalists who've gone independent to control their content. Sam Harris and Kass refuse sponsorship to avoid getting censored or coerced by mainstream media or large corporate interests. Kelly and Rubin have sponsors who are selected because they don't interfere.


For Twitter to succeed as an independent town square, it must follow a similar path? Generally speaking, Big Tech leans left because its most valuable customer base is from Gen X, Y, & Millennials that lean left. These demographic groups are also key to Big Corp like Disney.


Musk is cutting staff, reducing costs and perhaps moving in a direction to run a platform that isn't steered by the same forces that impact Facebook & Instagram. He'll also need to let customers filter content and decide what they see.


For example, most major hotel chains offer hardcore porn. Think of the backlash if customers couldn't decide whether they received that content or not.


Musk is worth almost $200 billion. No sure that making money is his motivation for buying Twitter.


Will Elon Musk’s Twitter Succeed?

Students discuss whether the platform's changes will save or ruin the company.

Nov. 22, 2022 6:50 pm ET


From the Wall St Journal

Editor’s note: In this Future View, students discuss Elon Musk and the future of Twitter. Next week we’ll ask, “With the well-documented corruption of FIFA and the morally dubious regimes allowed to participate in the World Cup, does the World Cup have a negative effect on the world? Or is the World Cup a unifying force in the world that helps social issues?” Students should click here to submit opinions of fewer than 250 words before Nov. 29. The best responses will be published that night. Click here to submit a video to our Future View Snapchat show.


Many free-speech advocates tried to muscle their way into this new public square, but they were suppressed by the coordinated efforts of the dominant tech giants. Parler, an alternative to Twitter, topped the charts before being taken down from the App Store last year. Donald Trump attempted to follow up with Truth Social, only for this app to be taken off the Google Play store.


This coordinated trillion-dollar endeavor to privatize discourse is perhaps the greatest contemporary threat to free speech. Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, however, the fifth most active social media in the world, is the first of hopefully many successful blows to the private square.


But the threat Big Tech poses is not so easily resolved by jail-breaking suspended Twitter micro celebrities. Regarding Elon Musk as our free-speech savior minimizes the scope of the problem. We should regard this new direction for Twitter as what it actually is: a good start.


—Nathan Biller, Colgate University, history and political science



Free Speech Needs Moderation


Elon Musk took over Twitter to control speech, not to free it. He fires employees who criticize his leadership, bans parody accounts that use his name, and accepts funding from figures in such countries as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, known for draconian censorship practices. His actions are not that of a free-speech warrior; they’re that of a child who decries anything he doesn’t like as unfair.


Mr. Musk’s idea of free-speech absolutism would be a nightmare for Twitter users. What Mr. Musk calls censorship are content-moderation practices that actually protect speech. Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, is one prominent user reinstated by Mr. Musk. He was previously banned for anti-Semitic comments. By giving Mr. West a platform again, Mr. Musk is prioritizing his personal relationship with high-profile accounts over the safety of Jewish Twitter users.


Other Twitter users from marginalized groups are experiencing a similar effect. Twitter users that harassed transgender people, for example, are replatformed by Mr. Musk, all in the name of free speech. Mr. Musk either does not realize, or refuses to acknowledge, the silencing effect his policies have on marginalized groups. These users, whose speech is already vulnerable, may be harassed off the platform. The public square that Mr. Musk claims to love isn’t sustainable without moderation.


—Lillian Ali, Northwestern University, journalism



Uncensored Speech Is Free Speech


Ivermectin, Hunter Biden’s laptop, Covid being made in a lab, masks not working, natural immunity. All of these, at one point or another, were censored to some degree on Twitter. And all of the above turned out to be more true than false, and censoring such discussions had real-world impact on politics, medicine and public perception. The censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story was especially egregious, as the link to the article couldn’t even be shared, and the New York Post’s account was suspended until they agreed to delete six tweets about the story.


Elon Musk taking over Twitter will likely save the platform. But throwing a life vest to Twitter won’t stop free speech from drowning. We must all keep in mind that, despite the cacophony of voices in power telling us otherwise, uncensored public discourse is the way of the future. It’s the principle on which the country was built and it’s the principle that will help revive it.


—Robert Sands, University at Buffalo, English



Musk Exposes the Progressive Tech Bubble


Free speech was not legally in peril. Twitter, like other social media platforms, is a private organization. It can do as it likes.


But what is legal is not always good. It was a sad state of affairs when progressive liberals in Silicon Valley colluded to moderate content they found disagreeable under the guise of implementing community guidelines.


Perhaps Elon Musk will run Twitter into the ground. But in the process of doing so, he will continue to expose the rot and bloat within tech companies. There are serious software engineers who care about creating innovative technologies. Unfortunately, those serious players get lost in a sea of tech workers who are unproductive agenda-pushing opportunists. Many of them end up in HR or content-moderation positions.


Mr. Musk’s takeover of Twitter is just another capitalist venture. It may or may not be successful from a business standpoint. But from a social standpoint, Mr. Musk has popped the liberal social-media bubble.


—Rafael Arbex-Murut, University of California, Berkeley, information and data science




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