It finally happened, the Twitter sale is complete. The social media platform was acquired this year by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who promised to “bring humor back to the platform.”
It was a busy day at Twitter Headquarters, when entrepreneur Elon Musk entered the halls. The new owner of the social media platform wasted no time in making his mark on the company. On his first day on the job, Musk fired most of the executive staff, including the chief executive officer, the chief financial officer and two senior legal officers. He then asked all the executives to make their lists as he prepared to put the rumors to rest 50 percent employees.
Twitter employees aren’t the only ones feeling the new leadership. Users of the platform are nervous about it becoming a place where hate speech is allowed after Musk said all previously permanently suspended accounts would be re-accessible. Many of these accounts have been deleted after being pinged for racist or violent tweets, or, in the case of former US President Donald Trump, for spreading misinformation.
Elon Musk and the search for freedom of speech
Musk is a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” which raises concerns about the platform. His initial expression of interest in buying Twitter revolved around free speech issues. Earlier in 2022, controversial podcaster Joe Rogan asked Musk if he was going to “liberate Twitter from the censorship happy crowd.”
“I’ll give you some advice. They may or may not stick with it,” Musk told Rogan.
Since the acquisition, Musk has spent his time joking on Twitter about his commitment to free speech. A series of tweets from the CEO has sent Twitter users from sarcastically calling free speech “so brave” to declaring that comedy is now “legal on Twitter” as they become concerned about the potential rise of bigotry and racism with the new, looser rules.
I don’t know Elon Musk and I don’t care who owns twitter. But I will say that if it is true, I hope he and his people take it very seriously because it is scary AF. So many damn unfit people say that hate speech is free speech. https://t.co/Sy0jvXIBnC
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 29, 2022
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Advertisers only needed three days of platform management to run campaigns. General Motors ( GM ) has announced it will be shutting down its advertisers on the platform for the foreseeable future while it considers which direction Twitter will take.
Other businesses are expected to follow in GM’s footsteps as individual Twitter users say goodbye to the platform, unwilling to see where the new direction will go.
The question remains, is freedom of speech something that is absolutely necessary? What distinguishes free speech from hate speech? Power returned to the people could mean toxic and hateful language spread across the platform like wildfire. This has led people around the world to question whether what Musk is doing is securing freedom or pushing his power too far and encouraging hatred.