Pro: Elon Musk’s Purchase of Twitter Benefits Free Speech

Julian Walliser '24, Staff Writer

Instances like smoking marijuana on a podcast in 2018 have consistently kept business magnate Elon Musk in the news. Most recently, his purchase of Twitter has sparked worldwide debate surrounding whether it will benefit free speech and the app as a whole. Despite the controversy surrounding Musk, his purchase of Twitter will prove beneficial for both.

Twitter has amassed countless problems that have contributed to its falling popularity. One is a lack of innovation, as Twitter functions almost exactly the same as it did when it was created. Another arguably more important problem with Twitter comes from hate speech. Over the years, Twitter has accumulated thousands of users who use the app solely to tweet racist, sexist and vulgar comments. Twitter has tried to prevent this by creating and enforcing a policy against hate speech, but this is often unsuccessful at properly filtering Tweets. While many accounts using hate speech are not banned, some users who tweet about the pandemic are censored, demonstrating the flaws in Twitter’s filtering systems. These issues have significantly influenced the platform, with many celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Toni Braxton and Shonda Rhimes leaving Twitter, citing hate speech as the primary problem. Because Twitter was originally created for people to converse with and follow celebrities, countless celebrities leaving the app has undoubtedly contributed to its falling popularity. Once a contemporary of YouTube and Facebook, Twitter has fallen behind in both popularity and revenue. The current state of Twitter leaves much room for improvement, but Musk’s leadership and innovation can help revitalize the platform.

Musk looks to solve these problems with new policies surrounding hate speech as well as ideas for future updates. While Musk has tweeted that he considers himself a “free speech absolutist,” even he can admit that Twitter must be moderated. The app’s influence on public opinion allows it to be exploited by those who wish to spread misinformation — therefore, it is impossible to allow total free speech. Musk realizes this and has shown his commitment to preventing misinformation by continuing a temporary Twitter ban on Georgia representative Majorie Taylor Greene, who posted false information about COVID-19  vaccines on her page. Though Greene’s account was reinstated in November,  this temporary deactivation reveals Musk’s acknowledgment of social media’s power in sharing and shaping information — a power he will not allow to fall into the wrong hands, a clear improvement over the management.

Musk also has many ideas about ways to improve Twitter and generate more revenue. These ideas will generate interest and bring users back to the platform, which has been suffering from a lack of new functionality.

Though Musk’s takeover has generally been successful, Twitter has experienced some issues. The Washington Post reported that since Musk took over as owner, the amount of hate speech has risen above past levels. However, while it may take some time for Musk to adjust to this new platform, which is quite different from his other business ventures, his plan to strike a balance between upholding free speech and moderation of hate speech will ultimately make the app more profitable and user-friendly.