There Goes the Neighborhood...
There's been a lot of drama with Elon Musk purchasing Twitter, and overall, I don't think I'm happy with where things are likely to go on the platform.
The more I've learned about Elon Musk, the less I think of him. The guy is smart, there's no doubt about that. With what he was able to do with PayPal, Tesla, & SpaceX, he'd have to be. But through all of this, he's also shown his true colors and rubbing me, and a lot of others, the wrong way to put it mildly. This is one of the reasons I am not happy with him becoming the person in charge of Twitter.
Over the last couple of months, he's spoken out about how he's upset with how Twitter handles their moderation. He's seemingly upset that Twitter labeled a few of his tweets as false and that they're too restrictive on speech. He says he views himself as a free speech absolutist and has been using this to go after Twitter for how they handle speech on their platform.
I am all for freedom of speech, I believe that people should be free to express themselves. I also believe that while people are free to say whatever the hell pops into their mind, that doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for said speech. If someone comes to you and starts spewing the most racist garbage you've ever heard, you're welcome to tell them to get lost and kick them out of your social events.
Twitter, like all platforms, has the right to moderate the content on their site as they see fit. If you don't like it you can ~~migrate to another platform~~ buy the platform...wait...ummm... Well, I guess that's what I may very well end up doing, I've already become a little more active on Mastodon. That's the power of capitalism. If you don't like a product, switch to another or build your own. People have been upset with Facebook and Twitter for a long while now, accusing it of being biased against conservatism (spoiler alert, that's not the case at all). It's why we have platforms like Gab, Gettr, Parler and Trump's own Truth Social. The fact that they're generally filled with racist, misogynistic assholes should say all that needs to be said.
The concern however is how Elon's freedom of speech absolutism will show itself on Twitter. There has been a long history across just about every platform you can name of having to deal with people representing the worst of humanity. Twitter has had plenty of issues with dealing with this in the past, and they certainly have had their share of screw-ups, but it seems like they've recently been doing a decent job of striking a decent balance. Twitter has even been one of the most aggressive defenders of free speech.
My concern is that Elon's going to relax the rules, and we're going to be left with a platform that supports more disinformation and one that allows for even more hate and harassment. I'm a straight white man and am hardly even noticed on Twitter or any social media platform for that matter. I don't have to deal with a lot of the garbage that goes on behind the scenes for others. But I know that others are far more vulnerable and are constantly dealing with threats and harassment online from others, and from bots. Hell it's pretty common knowledge that if you criticize Elon Musk or Tesla online, his fanboys and their bots will deluge you with hate. Is he going to consider that free speech? It's one thing to disagree with someone, it's another to harass and threaten them to the point where they are worried for their life.
Let's face it, Content moderation is hard, especially at scale. It's something the best and brightest have been trying to handle for over a decade. It's not an easy thing to accomplish and so far, no one really has.
It should also be mentioned that Elon himself has no problem trying to silence critics. He'll even go so far as to personally cancel people's orders if they criticize him. I guess some people's speech don't matter much. It makes you wonder if he'd use his position to go after his critics on Twitter. I wonder if Devin Nunes' Cow would have something to say given what the internet bovine had to deal with.
Maybe Elon has some better ideas for Twitter. I'm very skeptical of that, but maybe. The fact that Twitter will no longer be publicly traded might help insofar as they won't have to deal with maximizing shareholder value every quarter. But others did help fund Musk's buyout so I'm sure they're going to want to see a return on their investment. His comments on bringing transparency to the algorithm might be beneficial. There might be some upsides, but right now I don't see them outweighing the other questionable things Musk has said and complained about Twitter.
Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Reddit were really the only social media platforms I frequent. I ditched all of Facebook years ago and have mostly just hung out on Twitter. This change has made me start re-thinking that. I'll probably peruse Mastodon some (come follow me), but I think I'm going to start focusing more on maybe writing and sharing here on my blog. I also went and updated my RSS feeds, so maybe I'll start to stay away from algorithmic viewing and go back to 2008 with blogs and Google Reader (RIP). On a side note, if you have a good blog and wanna share your RSS feed, by all means let me know.