Are we ready for absolute freedom of speech?

Twitter owns the richest man in the world with controversial attitudes

3 min to read
Written by: Marko Sitar

Last week, the news that the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, became the owner of Twitter resonated strongly. This information provoked strong reactions among the general public and users of this social network, and especially among human rights activists who are concerned about how this takeover will affect the spread of misinformation and hate speech that is ubiquitous on this platform.

Ownership of Twitter has cost Musk $ 44 billion, and the reason for his takeover is stated in his press release: he wants to become an “absolutist of free speech”, which he describes as “the bad rock of a functioning democracy”, and use the platform as a “true forum” for expressing everyone’s opinion. He has publicly criticized Twitter several times for controlling and censoring “undesirable” content, and now it’s time to take matters into his own hands.

With a change of owner comes a change of algorithm?

It is important to be aware that Twitter is much more than just a social network that serves to connect with people, reading the news and sharing everyday dashes from everyone’s life. Today, many relevant people from political and social life “stay” on this platform, who are free to express their opinion, which will ultimately be followed by millions of followers around the world. Twitter has been developing for years a mechanism to limit problematic content and thus ban speech that dehumanizes others based on religion, race, sexual orientation and sexual orientation, but also to identify content that can potentially be untrue and harmful.

If we go back a few years, we will remember the situation with the controversial former US President Donald Trump, whose profile was suspended for insulting and publishing false information about current President Joe Biden. Twitter then implemented a rule that puts a special mark on tweets whose content violates the rules. Although problematic, such tweets were still available, but they did not appear in searches, nor were they recommended to users by the algorithm. By implementing such a policy, Twitter has made it clear that it wants to fight hate speech and misinformation, and be persistent in its goal of automatically identifying content that opposes its policies.

The clash of ideologies

Musk himself pointed out that buying Twitter does not come at all for economic reasons and benefits, but from his own belief that this is extremely important for the future of civilization. While #RIPTwitter is currently trending and the human rights activists are concerned about the future of users’ protection, many followers of Elon Musk express their satisfaction that Twitter will be in the hands of a powerful person who will allow everyone to express their opinion, whatever it may be.

This news currently raises several main questions: what does this mean for the future of the platform and its users, but also for the digital communications industry in general, which should protect groups exposed to hate speech and false information? Will Musk’s takeover and announced strategy encourage existing users to leave Twitter and will it bring in some new people, radical profiles? How will this affect democracy and the social climate in the world?

Given that these questions are currently difficult to answer, we have no choice but to follow developments and hope that someone will still take control if Musk crosses the line that separates democracy from anarchy.

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