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How the elites lost the Twitter war Elon Musk has sided with the rabble

The world's richest man has a new toy. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty

The world's richest man has a new toy. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty


April 27, 2022   4 mins

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is a litmus test of where you stand in the online ecosystem. To some, it means a dawn of “free speech” on a platform that has increasingly cracked down on unwanted views. To others, it means the takeover of a valuable public forum by a capricious and unaccountable oligarch.

Triumphalism and horror abound, but both responses are a distraction. While it is difficult to predict exactly what Musk will do with Twitter (he has announced his intention to soften content moderation and make the algorithm open-source, but only time can tell on both), what his purchase represents is considerably clearer: it is a major flashpoint in the shift from a centralised culture of public elites to a more decentralised, chaotic, and devolved world.

In this context, debates about free speech and accountability miss the point. There was nowhere near this much panic when Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post in 2013. Nor, for that matter, do people worry about the fact that Warner Bros Discovery owns CNN or that Comcast owns MSNBC. So why all the hoopla about Musk?

There are two reasons for the excitement. The first is related to Musk himself: his perceived character and affiliations. Elite media and progressive circles tend to regard him as more dangerous than Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos not because he is richer or more powerful, but because he is more culturally aligned with various deplorables, from crypto-bros to MAGA-heads to Joe Rogan.

This perception helps to explain the fretting over Musk’s claim to be a “free speech absolutist”, which human rights groups have warned could usher in a torrent of online hate. But whether or not you think unrestricted free speech is a good thing, it is unlikely to be put into practice. There is widespread agreement that unmoderated public forums are completely unmanageable due to trolling and abuse, and any administrator of any social media platform will have to engage in some filtering or censoring. The worry is about what kinds of speech he will and won’t let through.

The second reason relates to Twitter’s tenuous role in preserving an established national elite in an age in which the very idea of such an elite is dying. Twitter has in recent years, just like the internet itself,  bifurcated into two broad strata: a national “overculture” of elites — academic, celebrity, political, or journalistic — and a more shadowy, disparate “underculture” of often-pseudonymous hoi polloi, who increasingly define themselves in opposition to the traditional elites.

For many years now, the undercultures of Reddit, 4chan, and other online forums have made the idea of a respectable, professionalised online discourse more difficult to maintain. And the ability of the underculture to mobilise masses of anonymous users to push against the elevated voices of the overculture has shaken the established media culture to the bone.

This dynamic was on display last week in the conflict between Washington Post journalist Taylor Lorenz and the formerly anonymous Libs of TikTok Twitter account. The landscape of the battle was an indication of the overculture’s weakening position. When an anonymous account holds enough influence to not only merit mention by the Post but rally an online army against the journalist who exposed her, the elites have lost a great deal of the power that makes them elite.

Twitter, perhaps unwisely, made the bifurcation explicit when it introduced the Verified tag on accounts — the infamous “blue tick” letting users know that “an account of public interest is authentic”. In practice, the blue tick has become a pejorative marker to those who see Twitter as having catered to their more prestigious users while blithely censoring unverified users. (Disclosure: I am a verified Twitter user.) Blueticks, in turn, have to face the rage and mockery of the unverified hordes, proving that notability is no guarantee of respect. Some of the most successful of them, such Elon Musk and Donald Trump, have gained huge followings by railing against the very class to which they belong.

For an elite like Musk to disavow the overculture is tremendously dispiriting, even traitorous, to his fellow elites, and that is why his purchase of Twitter has provoked so much consternation. In an earlier age, the concentrated force of media, academic, and corporate elites could have overpowered Musk’s takeover bid. Enough of the players would have known each other that it would have been possible to close ranks to defend the overculture by expelling Musk from its ranks and declaring him toxic to all. Today, however, Musk has been able to pose as an anti-establishment figure in the vein of Trump, thereby gaining the backing of the underculture simply by seeming to be opposed to elites. That backing has been sufficient to leave any overculture objections in the dust.

Twitter has been paralysed for years. Some critics have attacked Twitter for not capitalising on its tremendous prestige, but these attacks downplay the immense difficulty of the company’s position. Twitter tried to be a voice for both the overculture and the underculture simultaneously, letting the two intermingle. That made Twitter uniquely valuable for forging connections that were not possible on Facebook or Reddit, but it also made it sclerotic. It was impossible to please both cultures. When Musk blathers on about free speech, what he is truly saying is, “Twitter has favored the elites too much; I will not do that.” That does not equate to more free speech, only to a different alignment.

If Musk immediately lets Donald Trump back on Twitter (and Trump returns), that by itself will be seen as a flashpoint in today’s culture wars. Media elites have long complained of Twitter not doing enough to stamp out abuse and assorted wrong opinions. Letting Trump back on the platform will be shorthand for giving the middle finger not to those who hate Trump but to those who fought so hard to get him off in the first place. Yet the irony is that Twitter only banned Trump on January 8, 2021, by which point he had already used the service to win the White House and demagogue his way through the presidency. Like NBC and CNN, Twitter turned on Trump only after he had successfully exploited their platform. It was yet another example of Twitter following rather than leading, unable to please its wide and insufficiently-cloistered constituencies.

Musk will face the same problems. Though he owes little to the overculture at this point, keeping the underculture happy will not be trivial. He is not a Trump who can throw red meat to his base — he will instead have to balance between underculture sects which, once they perceive the elite to be sufficiently marginalised, will start turning on each other. Musk will doubtless decide that such wars aren’t worth his time. If that happens, the future of Twitter may not look so different from its past and present: a stagnant purgatory, albeit one with fewer blueticks.


David Auerbach is an American author and former Microsoft and Google software engineer.

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Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
2 years ago

In the mouth of a typical progressive, a “torrent of online hate” is any idea they don’t share…
See also “disinformation”

Last edited 2 years ago by Aldo Maccione
Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Maccione

Thanks, this unassailable truth bears frequent repetition.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Maccione

It is Brexit all over again

Adam Grant
Adam Grant
2 years ago
Reply to  Aldo Maccione

I prefer “leftist” to “progressive” or “liberal”. Calling leftists progressives plays into the successor ideology narrative that the changes they are trying to make are positive and/or inevitable. Similarly, today’s far leftists aren’t liberals but authoritarians.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

Left-wing progressives – like the Intelligentsia before the Bolshevik revolution – who were part of that revolution.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

Absolutely true. Also, the very idea that they are “Liberals” – a fantastic philosophy which has been the work of the West’s finest minds for hundreds of years – is a lie. In the early 1900s, Marxists were hounded, cancelled, hated because of the horrible things Marxists all over the world had done. Both to fight back and to gain an acceptable label to hide behind, they “invented” a “new philosophy” (actually, just a regurgitation of Marxism) and called it “social liberalism” as if it were simply a new branch of that esteemed philosophical brand. It was of course nothing of the sort – and anyone who took the time to examine it would quickly realize it was the utter antipathy of Liberalism. It was collectivism vs individualism. Big government vs small government. Equal outcomes vs equal opportunity. And most important of all, it trumpeted a “moral imperative” to VIOLATE some people’s rights in the name of an indefinable goal of “social justice.” Hmmm, where have we heard that before?

Sadly, the ploy worked. The network of Marxists professors at Universities across the countries started trumpeting “Social Liberalism” as the new euphamism for Marxism. To outsiders, it sounded like Liberalism. But, just as when used in front of the word “justice,” the word “social” translates to “NOT” or the prefix “IN,” yielding “NOT Liberalism” and “injustice.”

All totalitarians must, to achieve their goals, lie perpetually. Nobody would go along with what they really want. There used to be a balance of people who loved freedom vs those who wanted draconian government between the parties, with the differences generally being nuance. That was over 100 years ago. Today, the divide is nearly perfect – with lovers of liberty on the right and totalitarians on the left.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

Thank you for that fascinating post.

Alan Green
Alan Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

It’s worth noting that Milton Friedman & FA Hayek, both loathed by todays “liberals” who consider them right-wing nuts, refused to give up on the term, referring to themselves as classical liberals. FA Hayek went so far as to write an article called “Why I Am Not a Conservative” in an effort to rehabilitate the term, pointing out that the etymological root of the word liberal is liberty..

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Green
ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

A perfect synopsis of the poison of Marxism in all its odious forms.I thank you.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

Excellent post. The same people perpetrated the fiction post-WW2 that fascism was a right-wing ideology, understanding that if Marxism were to have the Holocaust added to its already-long rap sheet, it would be buried forever. Hence these Marxist academics constructed a narrative in which Facism and nationalism became the extreme of conservatism and nation-State democracy. It is the most successful political fiction ever devised. In fact of course Fascism is simply a variant of authoritarianism, and therefore a leftist ideology. Right wingers are very simple to identify: we believe in small government. If a person doesn’t support the idea of small government, they are not a right winger, no matter what else they may believe in.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

Very good clear and concise post.

Alan Green
Alan Green
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

Bingo. They are in fact “Regressives”, wishing to take us back to a pre-enlightenment world.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

Indeed, that’s pretty much why I call them pseudo-progressives.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

Why today’s?
Far left was always authoritarian….

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

I prefer “woke fascist”.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

Good point, although I prefer to let them keep the label “progressive” if they really want. It’s “liberal” which they do not deserve.

mjohanssonruder
mjohanssonruder
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Grant

No, actually the term progressives is the correct term. The task is not to define leftists as progressives, but rather to point out that it us progressivism that lies behind the destruction of the west, both during the 20th and 21st century. Racial hygene, eugenics, architectural destruction of our historic cities, mass migration, cutting of genitalia of kids, all these are progressive policies. And more.

Sincerest, a Leftcon

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

The part of this acquisition that seems to be ignored in favor of the culture war implications are the financial aspects. Is Twitter a viable business? Will it turn a substantial profit for Musk? I’ve no idea.
The other part of the story that hasn’t been considered (at least not that I’ve seen) is the reaction of the Twitter employees. I read in Politico today that some of them cried when news of the acquisition broke (yes, I laughed), but how will they behave when Musk is fully in control? Will they quit in droves? Will they stay and undermine his agenda? Will he re-staff the whole organization?
When Musk blathers on about free speech, what he is truly saying is, “Twitter has favored the elites too much; I will not do that.”
Good because the rest of social media is dominated by the Left and it’s time for some rebalancing. If that’s all Musk achieves he’ll have done enough.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

There was something about an immediate lockdown of access to the algorithm as the deal was agreed, preventing some sort of sabotage by disgruntled employees. Presumably Musk insisted upon it as part of the purchase, perhaps?

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

TWTR was profitable to the tune of about $5/ share annually until COVID. It lost $6 / share in 2020 and was mostly flat last year. IF Musk can restore those earnings, he will be paying $54 / share for 10% annual return. And that’s a big IF.
More importantly, TWTR’s balance sheet isn’t that impressive. They’ve got $6B in the bank and less than that in hard assets. Musk’s offer is 6X Twitter’s book value. The whole company is vaporware; very successful vaporware for the last decade, but how likely is it to remain a market leader for the next decade? Hint: ask Yahoo.
https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/TWTR/twitter/eps-earnings-per-share-diluted

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

I think your valuation ignores intangibles too much. The power of network effects and the ability of Twitter to retain its market position makes it a quasi-monopoly with potential to access all kinds of related markets. And because of the intersection of corporate capitalism, the media and government, the payoff is not just in ad revenue.
Look to Musk to use Twitter to push his other pet projects. Not right away. But sooner or later.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

The irony of this article is whatever panem et circum for the masses that this will result in, the elite will continue to materially benefit from speculation on the assets bubbles his pet projects, aided by government subsidies, are creating.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

I agree. There really is a natural monopoly for social networks. Musk realizes this. I think this is a huge threat to Gab, Parler and Truth Social because of that.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“When Musk blathers on about free speech, what he is truly saying is, “Twitter has favored the elites too much; I will not do that.”
You can argue that the Elite are served by the ‘Guilds’ to enforce their position. The Guilds, in this case, being the MSM and Social Media, and the clerisy of the intelligensia. The purchase of Twitter by someone (apparently) outside the Elite is therefore an alarming warning of a modern fin de siĂšcle.
From Wikipedia: The major political theme of the era was that of revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society, and liberal democracy. The fin-de-siĂšcle generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism, and vitalism, while the mindset of the age saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Wow

Eric Dousonn
Eric Dousonn
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You can call me a pessimist, but it seems to me that nothing will change fundamentally. In terms of censorship. This deal is just an investment for Musk.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Eric Dousonn

Not a good investment at all, so there is something else at play for sure.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Musk is an excellent businessman. I believe that commitment to free speech will grow Twitter, and that in a few years he will go public again – selling only 49% of his stock to retain control, and recouping his $44 billion investment. Next stop? Rinse and repeat with Facebook…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

Let’s pray. It is a risky game for sure with Twitter. Facebook has its advertising

.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

One thing that twitter could and should do — and so should unherd — is to give one more varied ways to react to a posting than ‘like’ and ‘dislike’. ‘Made me laugh’, ‘Made me think’, ‘Taught me something new’, ‘Respectfully disagree’ … all much more valuable than a simple ‘like’ button. You cannot foster a climate of respect when your tools are so limited and polarising.

Mike Litoris
Mike Litoris
2 years ago

That’s an interresting point, i never thought of that.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Litoris

Why is your name (and others) in green while most are in black?

Ian
Ian
2 years ago

Something has changed in the Unherd account management system – happened to my comments too, after I was asked for name and email for a comment to be posted.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago

Different font too. Why can’t I be in green Ariel? Am I too old fashioned? I feel pigeon holed by Times New Roman. I have fresh ideas too!

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Litoris

see! ‘I never thought of that’ would be another good button! Thank you.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

I’d settle for UhHerd returning the “my account” feature to what it was up to about a week ago.

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago

I asked about that. I gather that this is due to changes that are being made at Unherd.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I had a completely different reply. Odd.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago

Same here. I raised two Help tickets – the first was marked Resolved fairly quickly but clearly not fixed. The second ticket was to ask why the first was Resolved without any reply… that second one was marked Resolved fairly quickly too, again no reply. Yet still I can’t find the (My) Comments menu option I had before. Perhaps I need to raise… a ticket. Yes that’s what I’ll do!

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

Agreed. Why did they do that?

polidori redux
polidori redux
2 years ago

Indeed a good point, but you can always post such a comment, as in “Well said that girl!” or some such. My own bugbear is anonymous downvoting on Unherd. I do not use that facility as it is too close to censoring people for my liking – I believe, though I am not certain, that downvotes cancel out upvotes.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I’d like to see a pilot where a downvote triggers the opening of the comments box – to push people to justify their downvote.
It could get messy – but maybe worth a try 


Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Nah, the tworolls already post enough venom. That would just give them more characters to spew …

Mike Elliott
Mike Elliott
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yes, downvotes do cancel out upvotes which means you can’t tell the difference between a comment with 20 upvotes and 20 downvotes (result looks like 0 votes) and a comment with no votes at all as they both appear the same. Obviously, they’re very different things if comparing the two hypothetical comments as one represents a heavily polarised response whereas the other shows mostly a neutral response.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  polidori redux

They do. I often give upvotes to people who’ve been downvoted for making reasoned statements even if I disagree with them. Usually only downvote comments that are rude or insult others needlessly.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Yes, I have from time to time wanted a laugh emoticon. However we must separate the enjoyment laugh from the derision laugh.
Thinking of the derision laugh – it is used frequently by Guardianistas. I am having some fun on The Guardian Facebook at the moment as Elon Musk has triggered them badly. I just throw a grenade into the mix and then disappear till the next one. Note to self – become a grown-up again soon and not bother with The Guardian.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

You’re never too grown-up to toy with the Guardianistas. Make them spit brimstone into their soy lattes!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Cannot resist at the moment!

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

God no, why should they have flavour and savour in their weird beverages?

Ian
Ian
2 years ago

It’s just so satisfying to see their distress.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
2 years ago

Maybe a “snort” (derisive) and a “laugh” (obvious)?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Excellent point!

K E
K E
2 years ago

I wasn’t interested in Twitter before and I’m not now, but this is move is highly interesting and I will be following the further developments.
Firstly because it is really quite funny to watch from the outside. Twitter, easily the most toxic of all platforms already, is being sold to an unpredictable maverick entrepreneur and users are freaking out because they fear “toxic Twitter”? Isn’t that the most wonderful irony?
It goes without saying that social platforms can’t be total free-for-alls: free speech has always been subject to limits and Musk does not seem to question this in any way. He just understands that the voices of those who have been deemed “deplorable” or “toxic” or “unacceptable” by the current elite – even though what they are saying is well within the bounds of the law – also have a right to be heard in a democracy. Their right to speak/write/express an opinion, provided it is within the bounds of the law, outweighs any leftie liberal’s right to “be safe”. Free speech is far more important than Harry & Meghan feeling like their PR-spun image is under threat because they have to share a platform with Joe Rogan. That this has become a controversial matter is worrying.
A healthy democracy needs rambunctious debate and the kind of censorship which seems to have been going on on Twitter (booting the Donald off while the Taliban can keep their account) is pulling us away from that. The balance needs to be redressed.
Side note: my own political oritentation shifted in the past 8 years from centre-left to centre right. There are several factors that caused this, but one of the key moments was the Hillary Clinton “deplorables” comment. That comment crystallised the utter hypocrisy of the side I thought I was on – claiming to be tolerant and yet abusing and disrespecting people who don’t think like you. Today’s Twitter is simply an online manifestation of the phenomenon/mindset that that comment grew from.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  K E

Musk has said that he will allow free speech within the bounds of the law.

K E
K E
2 years ago

Yes, I did write that, at the start of my 3rd paragraph.

Arthur
Arthur
2 years ago
Reply to  K E

If you’ve never been on Twitter, then you have no idea of the level of censorship, banning, shadow banning, throttling, etc. that goes on.
Spend enough time on the platform and you’ll notice the level of suppression all goes in the same direction: preventing dissent and inconvenient truths from gaining traction.

K E
K E
2 years ago
Reply to  Arthur

You don’t need to be a member of Twitter to get that – enough gets reported on channels like Unherd where I am a member – see Suzanne Moore’s article on her spat with Owen Jones last week.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
2 years ago
Reply to  Arthur

Cat Twitter is still pretty civilised:)

Ian
Ian
2 years ago
Reply to  K E

Jeez you should have seen what they were calling Brexit supporters!
I thoroughly enjoyed engaging in debate with my colleagues who assumed anyone of intelligence would be a Remainer – and destroying their arguments, not because I’m clever, but because their arguments were poorly informed and they underestimated pro Brexit arguments.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

One only has to witness the meltdown across the liberal media and among the more extreme left across social media, to see that Musk’s purchase of Twitter strikes a genuine blow to their cosy assumptions that only their own worldview should get prominence and dissenting voices should be banned.
I think the prize for the most idiotic and unself-aware take on this must go to Ari Melber of MSNBC who complained that, if Musk so chose, he could “secretly ban one party’s candidate or all of its candidates, all of its nominees. Or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else, and the rest of us might not even find out until after the election.”
Does he honestly not recognse that that is precisely what has been happening for the last several years – as Twitter forcibly removed Donald Trump from the platform. It also blocked the New York Post’s account, for reporting (accurately) on the Hunter Biden laptop story, even going so far as to shut-down any account that tried to share the story in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Big Tech has, for years now, manipulated content, steered search functions and suppressed or banned those who challenge their approved orthodoxy.
They’re suggesting that Musk will somehow open the door to “hate speech”, yet all he has promised to do is defend free speech.
Most interestingly he has promised to make the algorithm open source, so that any who are minded to can see for themselves the level of manipulation. That is not the act of someone who wishes to control the message, that is someone who wishes to free the message from control.

No wonder they’re terrified.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Elon Musk has said he wants a platform that is maximally trusted and inclusive to all. Banning, algorithms, shadow banning, bots, censorship, manipulation of the narrative will all come under scrutiny in the new Twitter. As regards censorship, he has also said that he will allow free speech within the law.
”US law does recognize a number of important restrictions to free speech. These include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, harassment, incitement to illegal conduct and imminent lawless action, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising, copyright or patent rights.”
Frankly I am delighted. It is time someone has the ability to take the fight to the ‘overculture’. Is the overculture ‘The Swamp’? At the moment even The Taliban is allowed on Twitter, whilst people messing with the overculture are dispensed with.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

“The Taliban is (are) allowed on Twitter”, surely that has to be commended if nothing else?

Last edited 2 years ago by ARNAUD ALMARIC
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  ARNAUD ALMARIC

Maybe, if they are not inciting violence. But maybe the just incite violence by their very being? Anyway, if they are within the rules, then they can stay. Equally then Trump should not have been removed, because even though he is accused of inciting violence, he did also ask for a peaceful protest (which it technically was). He didn’t ask people to storm the place.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Now my name is in green!

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

Agreed.
I see I’m still in black! Consummatum est perhaps?

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago

Nor did he request people to open the doors and let protesters in. What he did do was make the National Guard available as extra security – which would have kept protesters away from the building. However, and who knows the real truth in these times, it seems Nancy declined 6 separate times – almost as if she wanted something bad to happen.

I have no love of Trump’s mouth. I didn’t vote for him for anything he said or didn’t say on Twitter. I voted for him for the policies he put on his campaign site and then did his best to deliver on – and his success rate was high despite vicious opposition. However, if January 6th was “an insurrection,” then I am Elvis Presley. The malice in this country is definitely out of control. Words are not “violence.” VIOLENCE is violence. Let Free Speech live!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Johnathan Galt

There is no doubt that what Trump was positing and doing was a whole lot better than what happened previously in ‘the swamp’. I was red pilled during the email saga when Hillary Clinton was running against Trump. There was no way that a career politician that was married to an ex president didn’t know that work emails to a private account was not legal.
It is a sadness that Trump was unnecessarily divisive in his manner.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago

child pornography ??? well i dont know , they now have a supreme court judge who dolled out light sentences on nonces. and off they would go reoffending.. e.g the woke have ways around everything at the moment, even the law… but now we have the mighy Musk on side …let the games begin!!!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

Let the law overcome!

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 years ago

Here’s hoping Musk gives California the finger and moves Twitter to Texas, like he did with Tesla.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Oh he probably will. Wish I had bought in Austin two years ago like I considered doing.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

Might not help all that much – Austin is now nearly as bad as Kalifornistan.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

For years, I have wondered just why Musk wanted to build a rocket ship to go to Mars. What was the point?
Now, I understand. He is going to send the Twitter moderators “to the Moon, Alice.”
That guy is beyond smart.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

I enjoyed the reference, Christopher, but I fear you may have lost a goodly percentage of our younger co-commentators.

Rick
Rick
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

This would have been a great spot to click the “made me laugh” button.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

The lawyer managing the moderators who banned the NY Post because of the the Biden laptop saga must go in the TIP of the rocket into outer space. Take my MIL with her.

Mike Fraser
Mike Fraser
2 years ago

E M Twittered this today “By free speech, I simply mean that which matches the law.
I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law.
If people want less free speech they will ask government to pass laws to that effect.
Therefore going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people”
Which seems perfectly reasonable to me.
There is so much hypothesising in this article that perhaps the author and many of the commenters (?) should wait a while before jumping to conclusions.
Furthermore, this man has often stated that what drives him is wanting to make the world a better place by solving obvious problems. Paypal, Tesla, and Spacex are the results of his actions. This man is an achiever and so far it seems he will have benefited billions of people.
I hope people will be as reasonable towards him as he appears to be in his ambition for Twitter.

Guy Poirier
Guy Poirier
2 years ago

Aside from the opinions and indulgent speculation of what “will happen”, the bit about “Musk blathering about free speech” kind of tell you all you need to know about the author’s cynicism.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
2 years ago

Thank you for this – never realised I’d approve of Musk.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

Same here!

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 years ago

“Human Rights Groups” are now opposed to free speech. We live in strange times.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago

“To others, it means the takeover of a valuable public forum by a capricious and unaccountable oligarch.”

It was already run by capricious and unaccountable oligarchs, so clearly it’s not the PRINCIPLE that offends them, only “who has control.”

This reveals a fundamental truth about the American left – they are all, at heart, totalitarians. Like all totalitarians throughout history, they instinctively realize their ideas can never win on a level playing field, and so they must “control the message,” censor, cancel, harass, and otherwise bludgeon – both figuratively and in some cases literally – their opposition into silence.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 years ago

The author’s characterization of the play at Twitter, re elites, underculture, overcultures, that Musk has ‘betrayed his elite’ standing is really revolting, just abhorrent. Then again, it’s just one more example of the intolerance on the progressive left today of the common wo/man.

Last edited 2 years ago by Cathy Carron
Bennie History
Bennie History
2 years ago

This was the ticking time-bomb social media desperately needed to go off.
Ever since the mass-Tumblr exodus into other social media sites Cancel Culture has been going on a mass rampage seeking to destroy anyone in its path. If you dared to step out of line or discuss a different talking point on any of these platforms you were at risk of being censored, banned, or cancelled.
Reddit uses moderation teams to censor this, but Twitter was unique in the fact that it had its own users censor “wrong think”. With the weapon of choice being doxing on Twitter there has been a mass exodus of conservative users to sites that entertain more anonymity. It will be interesting to see if they return once Elon Musk changes policies.
Also just to note Twitter, CNN, and ABC may have been exploited by Trump, but I feel it should be noted that in no way did they cover him fairly before January 8th, 2021. Twitter famously used fact check banners to try and discredit any statements made by the president. The same with CNN and ABC who while they gave publicity to Trump often did so in a dishonest portrayal.
My question is – Where were these fact check banners or information checks on the Russia Collusion story? ABC and CNN ran the story for years with little verification or substantiating information, but Twitter let these stories run wild.
Twitter also buried the Hunter Biden laptop story and banned users for trying to spread it even when it turned out to be true.

D M
D M
2 years ago

I would have described twitter mobs as the rabble

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
2 years ago

That torrent of online hate is already there and has been for years. It all flows in one elite and anti-egalitarian direction, so the overclass thinks it is merely reasonable opinion. But, hate it is

Alan Green
Alan Green
2 years ago

A distinction that helps clarify is recognizing the difference between being a member of an elite versus being an elitist. The classic example is William F. Buckley Jr. who famously said “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston phone book than the entire faculty of Harvard.” While clearly a member of an elite, he was no elitist. The same can be said for Donald Trump & Elon Musk.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

I don’t get how people who insult others on a computer screen can be considered elite.

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
2 years ago

I think this will be remembered as a turning point in the culture wars. I can think of the Altamont concert as a similar era defining event marking the end of a previous left-wing progressive era.
I think at a higher level, this is tracing the retrenchment of the global economic expansion scaling back into isolated economic zones. This expansion, and the brief American hegemony that went with it created the elite that got made rich, influential and ultimately convinced of their righteousness. Some people were successful in a way previously unthinkable in particular building on the fruits of the use of cheap labour of China.
This made it possible for these liberals to become disjointed from the nation states (and really unmoored from reality) to turn into utopian left-wing progressives to the extent that they saw democracy itself as an obstacle to the right world order.
That world is gone, in particular because China refused to play the game. The elite that got made by this (the rich the educated and the praetorian guards) will refuse to accept the new reality for as long as they can though – which is what’s happening today.

Last edited 2 years ago by Emre Emre
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

Twitter is a journalist’s hangout. So biases on Twitter affect how journalists perceive the world. Campaigning groups then manipulate Twitter to popularise their viewpoint, and suppress counterviews, leading to a journalism that drifts away from reality. Against this are the growing numbers of independent journalists growing their personal brand on Twitter by being counter-mainstream.
So, if I were Musk, I’d merge Twitter with Substack or a streaming channel to help the Twitter ‘talent’ (ie those with a large numbers of followers) monetarise their content. Add in ideas like donations or subscriptions to content producers mediated via Twitter, and allow curators/curating services to emerge and you get a new newspaper model.
Secondly, ask for a small fee for the ability to Tweet and like, while also allowing free comment, giving a dual recommender system – unverified and verified where users can turn off the unverified. Campaigners can still manipulate, but they’d have to pay for a real voice. And real – ie verified – users boosts the value to advertisers. The result could be much better financials, and all of which relies on clearing out the fakery and manipulation, and boosting, rather than suppressing, counter-mainstream voices.

Andy Aitch
Andy Aitch
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Twitter is also like catnip for the hard of thinking. It’s unfortunate that so many able-thinking people feel they cannot survive without it but, given time, we will survive, Twitter will not. To better understand the vast majority of what lies there you need only to bear in mind the dictionary definition of two words: ‘twitter’, and ‘follower’.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago

Perhaps Mr Musk would like to purchase UnHerd? The censorship system certainly needs reform.

Kieran Saxon
Kieran Saxon
2 years ago

The very name “unherd” hints at representing the unheard and being apart from the herd. Another article that could have been written by any hard-left NPC, trying to lump Elon in with Trump, and being concerned at allowing “assorted wrong opinions” isn’t why I subscribe.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago

“…wrong opinions….”

The fact that a prior President of the United States has been banned for wrong opinions in the United States indicates that the current Twitter is closest to Pravda for the Left.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago

“
 the future of Twitter may not look so different from its past or present 
”. No – I m sorry – it will look very different. Twitter had become the mouthpiece of the US Democrats and progressive clerisy. It became ridiculous what you couldn’t say on it. Whatever Elon does it will be very different – and it couldn’t possibly be worse.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gunner Myrtle
N T
N T
2 years ago

“Devolved”? How the f**k is decentralized and reduced central planning “devolved”? It’s more like de-tarded.

Last edited 2 years ago by N T
Martti O Suomivuori
Martti O Suomivuori
2 years ago

I am curious to see Elon Musk’s idea about Twitter’s essence. Every time Elon Musk has done something, it has been for a purpose. Who would have imagined the significance that Starlink got in the Ukraine war? Who would have thought that his Megafactories rethink the way automobiles are constructed? Without his batteries, the solar farms would be only halfway there.
What might be the purpose he sees for Twitter, something that it is now fulfilling badly? Some Twitterati seem to think they are the judge and the jury on most worldly affairs. They have assumed the power to decide what is good and what is evil; they think they own the values of modern society.
Twitter mobs possess powers that are superior to law enforcement. They can take a life and destroy it. People lose their careers and jobs as Twitter troops comb their past to find dirt they can magnify out of all context, with tragic consequences. This cannot be what Elon Musk wants. Nor can he accept banning people who have no idea what they had done wrong. Does he stand for forbidden subjects, taboos like the discussions about a laptop or the origin of a virus? Not likely. Elon Musk has faced real problems and stood strong when nobody else saw any solutions. The truth revealed itself to him the hard way. If you cannot face it, you are useless.
I do not think he would go with the woke definition of hate speech or microaggressions, nor will he sympathize with people who do not “feel safe” if certain words are/aren’t used as prescribed in their protocols. I expect his net effect will be raising the mental age of the community and adding a touch of male hormones in the mix.
As for the function of Twitter, I hope he wants to build it into a network of bridges rather than the maze of fortresses it is today.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martti O Suomivuori
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

The world awaits with baited breath.

In the 1989 comedy, Shirley Valentine, the character of Shirley, the downtrodden housewife (oh, and mother), scolded by her husband for not having his steak and chips ready at the agreed-upon time, whispers to herself, “What is the world coming to? JOE 
 EATS 
 LATE”.

The next day’s headlines she imagines in the scene, she might imagine up there with MUSK BUYS TWITTER – if her humdrum life was still the same thirty-three years later.

The ordinary folk would just like to enjoy life. They’re alright. They rather dispense with the follies and the philistinism of the Ă©lites.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
2 years ago

Turn on each other? No, the ‘elites’ (globalist anywhere narrative) is too big to go away anytime soon.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“When Musk blathers on about free speech, what he is truly saying is, “Twitter has favored the elites too much; I will not do that.” That does not equate to more free speech, only to a different alignment.”

Surely not. The point about free speech is that its freedom is for everyone irrespective of their power and privilege. When only the elites possess the right to speak as they choose, that’s not free speech.

Keith Shingler
Keith Shingler
2 years ago

Great article. However, it’s difficult to believe that Musk would pay such an eye-watering amount of money just for the privilege of being able to re-balance the right v left online argument.

Could it be more to do with using the Twitter network as a ready-made crypto marketplace? He’s already the proud owner of ÂŁbillions worth of bitcoin and his love of Dogecoin is well known (which interestingly jumped 25% when the Twitter purchase was announced).

Surely, crypto must have played a large, if not the biggest, part in his decision to buy Twitter. The ability to champion the voice of the right and anti-woke is a nice plus – but a nice one to have because it diverts attention away from the real business of moving Twitter towards the crypto future. Watch this space and maybe buy some Dogecoin while you’re at it.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

DeSantis for President. Musk for Veep. You read it here first.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

Did I read that correctly? The ‘tremendous prestige’ of Twitter? You must be joking.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
2 years ago

There is a third viewpoint: as the users of Twitter will remain broadly the same, those of us who have never had anything to do with it will continue having nothing to do with it.
Just because a billion people use it doesn’t mean it has anything meaningful to say.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

Another example of what happens when you overeducate the middle class.