Opinion

Elon Musk Battles the Free Speech Windmills of Social Media

The Freedom of Speech in Social Media Paradox

While Elon Musk positions himself as a free speech absolutist, free speech in the internet is like the Congressional Ethics Committe. An Oxymoron!  Or as Evgeny Morozov might say:  ‘cyber-utopianism.’ Evgeny Morozov is an American writer, researcher, and intellectual from Belarus who studies political and social implications of technology. He was named one of the 28 most influential Europeans by Politico in 2018.

The commitment to open source transparency and accepting a wide range of viewpoints remains unchanged – Elon Musk

Elon Musk hailed free speech in his first tweet after clinching a deal to buy Twitter Inc for $44 billion. “ Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”

For a free society to prosper, a marketplace of ideas is required

There’s a lot of truth in what Musk is saying: For a free society to prosper, a marketplace of ideas is required, coupled with vigorous debate, the best ideas emerge victorious. That’s how America became the world’s standard and the envy of the world. Arguably, the best ideas in the 21st century have come from America. But social media and the legacy media have turned vigorous debate into vigorous hate parties. Studies show that an average superpower survives, on average, a mere 250 years. We must confront the painful reality that America’s  time as a world superpower may be limited, thanks in part to high tech.

Musk’s Stance on Free Speech

Grok discussion on X frames the free speech issue as follows:  “Elon Musk’s stance on free speech and censorship, particularly in the context of social media platforms like TikTok, has sparked a debate among users. The posts suggest a controversy surrounding Musk’s views on the subject, with some users supporting his position on free speech absolutism and others questioning his commitment to the principle. The discussion also touches on the role of platforms like TikTok and the potential need for regulation or censorship. – Grok is an early feature and can make mistakes. Verify its outputs.”

The Taliban of the West vs. Musk

But Musk is no stranger to controversy. Even before he took control of X, formerly known as Twitter, Musk faced ridicule, praise and vehement opposition by the legacy media, social media, television and politicians, collectively referred to as the Taliban of the West, for his stance on freedom of Speech and his pledge to place Twitter algorithms in the public domain.

In the November 2022 of MIT Review, Chris Stokel-Walker says BotSentinel estimates that suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, 2022,  while half a million more were suspended. The message?  Twitter is doomed!

The city of San Francisco launched a massive safety investigation into  @elonmuskfor erecting an “X” on his building. The same city just DROPPED ALL CHARGES against men who stole a car, drove it through a pedestrian walkway, over a cliff & crashed onto the sidewalk 

Thanks to a lawsuit brought by journalist John Stossel, it “has exposed the left’s supposed battle against  “misinformation” as a farce” according to NY Post’s editorial board. “Facebook finally admitted the truth: The “fact checks” that social media use to police what Americans read and watch are just “opinion” it stated. BotSentinel is just another social media fact-checker

#JAHP (Just Another Hit Piece) on Elon Musk by the Woke Street Journal;
“@ElonMusk Has Used Illegal Drugs, Worrying Leaders at @Tesla and @SpaceXSome executives and board members fear the billionaire’s use of drugs—including LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms and ketamine—could harm his companies”

The previous month, the people who mourned the death of the Buddhas and the destruction of artifacts of Afghan culture and History celebrated the removal of not only Confederate Leaders statues, but also Teddy Roosevelt’s – the same people were mourning the sale of Twitter to Elon Musk. Writing for Fortune Magazine, Steve Mollman writes:  “Musk has owned Twitter under a week and big names are already leaving the platform, complaining about a hate surge, and calling for tighter regulation “That didn’t take long. It’s been four days since Elon Musk finalized his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, and already he’s facing pushback from celebrities, lawmakers, and advertisers.” Steve Herman tweeting for Bloomberg sounds a different alarm.  He tweets: “ A tide of slurs and racists memes swell on #Twitter, sparking concern, the site is entering an era of hateful speech following the takeover by @elonmusk.”  We actually found the opposite to be true: LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook – even #Twitter et al have intensified their attack on free speech since Elon Musk bought Twitter.  Instagram uses USA Today to fact-check a prayer and agrees with Washington Post and NY Times concludes that Prayer may be hazardous to your health, for example. Does that mean Elon Musk is an incompetent businessman as @BetteMidler implies in an April 7. 2024 on a post on X? After all, freedom of speech in Social Media is an Oxymoron.

Social Media Business Model

Social Media companies make money through advertising. Using an advertiser-supported model, rather than charging each user individually, is the easiest way for  social media companies to garner as many users as possible. If you are not paying for the product, the product is you. The media company renting your eyeballs to its advertisers.The more users on the site, the greater the number of advertisers willing to engage them, and the more those advertisers are willing to spend. The more the inflammatory the posts are, the more clicks.The more clicks, the more revenue for the social media company.

For example from posts on X:

Ricky Davila @TheRickyDavila calls Dwayne Johnson coward because Johnson now regrets having voted for Biden.  Would Davila calls Johnson ‘coward’ to his face?

Ricky Davila @TheRickyDavila calls RFJ Jr a deranged chaos hired by white supremacist 

@FrankFigliuzzi1 denigrates Michigan police officers’ union for endorsing president Donald Trump ⁦

@RpsAgainstTrump calls #MGT a moron for publicly professing her faith

@JonCooperTweets just called the Speaker “AntiChristian” for not supporting aid to AntiChristisn Zelensky.

@Kessesinstein people of faith like MGT should not be in government 

@Kessesinstein called #CharkesKirk ignorant for his pro life advocacy

In Legacy, Television and Social YOU are the product.

Television, newspapers, and media companies have been making money via advertising long before social media, but did not have the power of the network.  Now with the power of the network, broadcasters are mimicking social media companies in monetizing hate and division.

With over 353.9 million monthly active users and a staggering $5 billion in ad revenue, Twitter stands as a social media juggernaut. Not surprising, countless Twitter advertising agencies are vying for eyeballs. For YOU.

SociallyIn for example, boasts that Ad targeting and demographic precision stand at the forefront of its service offerings and claims it has “mastered the art of eliminating ad wastage by precisely targeting specific audience segments based on varied criteria, including age, gender, and location. Every Twitter ad campaign is a symphony of analytical precision and creative ingenuity, ensuring resources are allocated efficiently and messages reach those most likely to convert.” If you use social media, YOU are the product!

Whoever Has the Biggest Boom Box Wins the Debate

Free speech is not free. By itself, free speech is like a democracy; where the vocal majority imposes its will on the minority.  For example, on X the White House and the Legacy media take advantage of Elon Musk’s pledge for free speech, combined with X’s CEO Linda Yaccarino, ‘Freedom of Speech, Not Reach’ Policy and the updated  Community Notes to overwhelm the opposition. As  @Krassenstein argues that “free speech works both ways”  ‘ meaning, whoever has a bigger boom box wins the debate – its no longer the best ideas win!

While the flawed notion thar one can advance freedom using high tech and social media in particular, is not new – Evgeny Morozov called it ‘cyber-utopianism’ – In  2003 president George W. Bush pledged to democratize the Muslim World by providing platforms promoting free speech, including printed and online media. BigTech, followed suit and  promised to democratize the world by offering free Internet – but they quickly carved out silos monetizing hate and division

The Internet as Cyber-Utopia

For as much as the Democrat Coalition, including the legacy media  and the White House, hate Elon Musk for being the loudest  loudspeaker in the world promoting  freedom of speech – Musk is demanding the impeachment of  Brazian Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes, who seeks to censor several accounts on X. – 

X’s new Community Notes Policy and Yaccarino’s freedom of Speech, Not Freedom of Reach Policy, coupled with Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB), the Democratic Coalition have made of X, its very own Biggest and Loudest Boom Box in the World. It can easily drown and censors itscritics and can get away with lies and misinformation.

Elon Musk, Hypocrite or Visionary

Is Elon Musk a hypocrite as his critics say for the way he manages content on X? An incompetent businessman as Bette Midler charges? A Don Quixote Battling the Free Speech Windmills of Social Media or cyber-utopia as Evgeny Moroz might say. History tells us that freedom of speech and social media has been proven to be an Oxymoron, there’s one man on earth today that can prove history wrong: Elon Musk. If anything, Musk is a visionary. If anyone can brake through the Freedom of Speech on Social Media Paradox, is Elon Musk.

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