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“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy”

 


“Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.” Elon Musk tweets right before he became the largest shareholder of Twitter stock. The CEO of Tesla now holds 73,486,938 shares of Twitter which is valued at almost 3 billion dollars. The social networking service that was founded in 2006 has allowed users to tweet almost anything they want. There are plenty of posts that Twitter has taken down in the past but not as many as there have been since Joe Biden took office over a year ago. Elon Musk has been very vocal on Twitter for the past five years and currently has over 80 million followers. 


“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?” Musk tweeted a couple weeks ago when he took to Twitter in hopes of outing the platform for taking down tweets. Although Musk is just a regular stock holder and seemingly has no impact on the company, he does have a massive following and is the richest man on the planet, so this could have some impact on the companies future. 


Back in September of 2021, it was made known that Twitter had restricted an article made by the New York Post about Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Hunter has been very controversial in the news lately admitting that he smoked crack with mayor Marion Barry. Although that was up to the platform not allowing the article to be posted, it still does not stand by their motto of allowing free speech to all users. “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” This is Twitter’s official mission statement. Twitter’s Commissioner James Trainor and Vice Chair Allen Dickerson released a statement saying, “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers” Although this may be a good thing that Twitter decided to take down this article, it still is breaking their own mission statement. After they took down this article Twitter changed their policy on taking down tweets which now states, “it would only remove content directly shared by hackers or those working with them. It also said it would label tweets with additional context instead of blocking them from being shared on the platform at all.” The CEO of Twitter came out saying that taking down the article of Hunter Biden was “unacceptable.” 


This has caused controversy with Twitter users including Elon Musk who has complained of this keeping information about the Biden family in order to protect their image. When Donald Trump was in office, none of his tweets were taken down or censored. They were trying to get Trump banned from the platform as a whole, along with Facebook but were unsuccessful and it was not until after the Hunter Biden article when Twitter changed its policy. Is Twitter now protecting the liberals? It could seem like a logical answer however, James Trainor and Allen Dickerson are both publicly part of the Republican party so it wouldn’t make much sense for them to take down the article. There was another source that said the information in the article about Hunter did not come from the valid source and that is why Twitter took down the article. If this is the case then there must be thousands of Twitter posts that contain false or invalid information that has not been taken down, both regarding liberal and republican political figures. 


Elon Musk is now talking about starting his own social media platform which would be somewhat like Twitter in which users can truly have freedom of speech. Musk uses Twitter for his own freedom of speech and does not seem to hold back on whatever he wants to say. Owning 9% stake in the company he will not have a say in the decisions made at Twitter about what can and cannot be posted but with more investments he could even take over the platform in the future and allow for any regulation change. According to an LA Times news article, “No one has profited more from the existence of Twitter than Elon Musk,” said David Kirsch, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business “Donald Trump used Twitter to win the presidency, but Elon Musk used it to sustain the Tesla narrative and support the stock when the company was in danger of collapse.”” 


After Musk’s investment became publicly known on Monday Twitter's stock increased 22%. On March 14 he bought the stake but did not invest until 11 days later when he tweeted a poll about if Twitter is allowing freedom of speech or not. He then tweeted that the results of this poll were crucial and to choose wisely. Twitter still claims that the Post article was posted by hackers and not by the actual publication. Is that true or are they just trying to cover for Hunter Biden or the Democratic party? ““It was literally just a process error. This was not against them in any particular way,” said Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.“If we remove a violation we require people to correct it,” he added. “We changed that based on their to wanting to delete that tweet, which I completely agree with. I see it. But it is something we learn.”” Jack Dorsey is publicly in support of the Democratic party and in 2019 it was known that he financially supported the Democratic party for the 2020 presidential election. There must be a connection to Twitter being run by people who support the Democratic party and then forcing the Post to take down an article that negatively reflected Joe Biden’s son. Elon Musk may not have the ability to change Twitter’s policy, but he can certainly persuade people’s opinion with the amount of influence he has on the world. 


 


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