Elon Musk’s Twitter: The New Wild West
By now, who hasn’t heard of Elon Musk and his present saga as owner and CEO of the now-private Twitter? The story moves along so quickly that it’s difficult to get a handle on it all. This may be Elon’s greatest adventure to date, space exploration and all well considered!
For Elon, running Twitter must make him feel like a kid loose in an authentic Willy Wonka candy shop; he finally gets to flex his programming skills and yet again walk in as an outside consultant/owner, and revamp workways and company culture, top to bottom. He gets to see memes forming and growing. He gets to feel the pulse of human activity, waxing and waning. Clearly this is the stuff of Elon’s dreams; we can guess he likely lives for glimpses into the movement of mass-consciousness.
The Pretoria, South Africa-born American entrepreneur has dabbled in rocketry, dot-com projects, electric vehicles, solar power, and underground excavation with stellar results. Mr. Musk’s net worth is amongst the highest in the world; Elon’s a creative powerhouse who can communicate precisely and effectively. It works for him. Quite well.
Well, usually…lately Twitter has been getting a lot of attention, both sneers and jeers, as well as cheers and whoops.
Elon’s about more than the money. Sure; he loves excess and doing things grandly, but this just ties in with his innate marketing acumen. Buying Twitter is, perhaps, Elon’s most significant act to date. His intention of maintaining a major platform with the edict of “free speech absolutism” or bust is about more than money, like all his other ideas were.
Elon seems to understand, perhaps better than anyone, that “money is a tool.” The Twitter purchase was a perfect example of this concept in action. Plus, Twitter is a failing business that could actually make money, with some reworking and tweaking of, well, everything. Win-win?
It’s always been about serving humanity, at least from Mr. Musk’s point of view. Living a life that leaves his kids a legacy they can be proud of, as well as edifying the Musk family name, seem like Elon’s more personal goals. This is evident in all the man does.
Elon recently defined “wokeness” as a “mind virus” that must be eradicated.
The woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 12, 2022
The author would like to say that they agree; however the “based” mindset is likewise destructive, though in a different manner. It’s best when the people are freethinking and not part of politico-cults. If Twitter goes from “woke” to “based,” where are all the non-politically obsessed going to gather?
Twitter is slowly turning into the Wild West, and there is no longer a vast, bloated team of “qualified specialists” curating every tweet, poring over every last word, groups of humans and computers, ever vigilant, ever protecting the Twitter users from offensive and insensitive content.
The game has changed. No longer will there be virtual hand-holding; no longer will Twitter baby us, protect us like infants in the care of a cagey digital tiger mother. Remember, many pioneers headed out West in covered wagons, risking all, simply because they were seeking a world freer than the stifling society back East.
Some users, like George Takei of Star Trek’s seminal character Mr. Sulu fame and much else since, a real paragon of liberal thought, expressed that he felt like Twitter was no longer a safe space, and headed for greener pastures over at Mastodon. (The New York Post reports, “Twitter has banned the official account of its social media rival Mastodon while barring users from linking to its servers…”)
Takei was not at all happy with Right-leaning Twitter users comments being included in his feed.
My feed today has all kinds of right wing posts in it from people I definitely do not follow. These are not retweets or likes by others. Just random far-right tweets. I feel sullied by the experience.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 2, 2022
Others, like Elton John, likewise left, citing that he saw the platform promoting ideas he was not comfortable with.
All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world.
I’ve decided to no longer use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) December 9, 2022
Elon even asked him why he was going.
I love your music. Hope you come back. Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022
Now, what you Tweet can still get you unpersoned in real life, as cancel culture rages on with both the Left and Right fueling the fire, but at least you will still have your Twitter account! There’s a good chance a lot more users will feel offended by content that they find unsavory, xenophobic, or downright prejudiced. Twitter may begin seeming a lot more like 1980s Times Square, raw, unpolished, grimy, but real, rather than the 1990s Giuliani era of big brands and family-friendly fun, clean but missing something vitally and emblematically NYC.
Alas, the vast echo chamber that was the Tower of Twitter has fallen! But will this sort of co-mingling (i.e.: forcing) of Left and Right ideas encourage dialogue, or just hasten the demise of Twitter, as a mass exodus of the young and liberal user base migrates to a new platform?
Remember the Myspace to Facebook migration? Well, it didn’t stop there. The process of finding the new hip hangout has continued from well before the 1950s carhop diner days all the way to modern times and Twitter.
Is this bedlam and chaos the price of digital freedom of speech? Is it better to have a voice that cannot be silenced, even when spouting garbage, hate, misinformation? We can all agree that we can’t possibly agree about what that encompasses.
And so, censorship is really about amplifying one viewpoint, while squelching all the others. Are some ideas worth squelching? It seems so. What about people who espouse hatred for others? What about Kanye West? Twitter did suspend him for his anti-semitic Tweeting. So, apparently, Twitter is not absolute bedlam, despite some critics’ claims.
And so, there are consequences to being destructive on Twitter. And, definitely, there have been instances where tweets were deleted and users held accountable. Permitting hateful content to proliferate means people will be reading that rage-soaked, anti-science drivel again and again, reinforcing lies in their minds and literally stirring up hatred. At the very least, engendering suspicion and mistrust. Goebbels and repetition, definitely an intersection we should all think about. How do we handle this? What level of tolerance should we, as a society, accept? Is real-life different than online? Perhaps once this was so, but by now the line has been blurred.
Should a digital platform serve primarily as a giant editing machine? Is that legally necessary in the United States, or was it just a convention adopted by past bureaucrats that can be dispensed with?
Then, there’s the issue that not all people can agree about what hate means. Would we all define hate groups using the same criteria? It seems like the answer is an obvious yes, but each of us has our own moral sense. Should Twitter, and other platforms, err on the side of caution? In other words, how much moderation and user penalization for inappropriate content is sufficient, yet not excessive? These are ideas worth discussing. Also, there is the philosophy that dialogue leads to truth, and that hateful manifestos and ideas can be proven as malignant when permitted to be shared.
At least now everyone has a voice on Twitter. What one says, and how one says it, is still the responsibility of the individual.
In fact, in some sense, it’s healthy to be exposed to other views, especially those contrary to your own deeply held notions. One can just ignore them. Or, something called dialogue can happen. I know; I know; it’s been a while, but there’s really nothing to fear. If you find someone’s arguments to be knuckle dragging at its worst, there’s nothing stopping you from a clever retort backed by cogent argumentation. We should all be able to defend ourselves and our most precious ideas from behind a screen; it’s a necessary skill. It’s practice for real life, after all.
Even so, certainly bullying is a palpable evil, and it’s the responsibility of the community to rally around the victim to help, to push back against the bully for transgressing boundaries, and to report the bullying to authorities, whether a teacher at school, or a digital platform like Twitter. Flagging Tweets that trouble you is a good habit; doing the equivalent in real life is more difficult, yet just as important.
It’s also good to know your enemy. Jewish people, and other groups that face discrimination, should know the level of hatred and vitriol that sits just below the surface in society. It’s not good being ignorant and unprepared as enemies gather in secret. So, keeping hate-talk out in public lets everyone know what time it is.
Additionally, Twitter does still have its rules; there may be a new sheriff in town who lets the saloon roil with raucous laughter deep into the night, but the sheriff is also fair and just and will keep order in his tumbleweed town. Right? We can hope. Some fear that Elon’s vision of order is disorder at its worst. We’ll see. Hate speech is not good, but if keeping it under control means the loss of free speech entirely, what did we really win?
And, those users’ accounts that had been banned before Mr. Musk’s purchase have been reactivated wholesale, including those of former President Donald Trump and Kanye Werst. (But not Alex Jones.) So far, Trump hasn’t tweeted, but Kanye has, and has already had his account temporarily suspended for spouting antisemitism. That was the tweet that cost him billions. Truly epic! But without the freedom Elon granted him, it couldn’t have happened. The new-found freedom is already changing everything. Perhaps it was better for Ye to have been silenced, to have his hand held. For his own sake and the sake of his Jewish kids, and everyone else’s Jewish kids…at the very least.
Next, came the revelations: The Twitter Files. Here we see Musk as a whistleblower who found a perfectly legal means of revealing a lot of the behind-the-scenes workings at major social media companies. All people of the world should acknowledge that Elon was being heroic and brave; in no way does this help him economically. He is risking his very safety in exposing everything that he has. He didn’t have to do this; he could have kept his money, purchased a string of mansions spanning the globe, and relaxed with a fine bottle of wine on his yacht. But Elon does not even own a house, let alone a portfolio of properties! And, he doesn’t own a yacht. Whether we like Elon’s style or not, whether we agree with his politics, we should all agree that here is a man dedicated to his ideals, someone willing to forego ease for the sake of the future. That is commendable.
But will Elon Musk and Twitter win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism? Probably not; however, this may well be Elon’s most historically significant act, to date. It turns out, Twitter’s giant budget was used to pay vast hordes of censors. In fact, the Twitter Files, as the secret Twitter memos have come to be known, have shown that Twitter suppressed the voices of conservative users on the platform. The internal emails and Slack chat captures prove that moderation was out of control. Were you curious about Hunter Biden’s laptop story being suppressed? Which would interfere more with elections: The tweets linking to the NYP laptop story or keeping those tweets hidden?
As would be expected, the F.B.I. interacted with Twitter staff on censoring and suppressing some users; after all, the Nation must be protected, and threats do exist. However, the scope and scale of this operation is staggering; some may question whether it’s far beyond what is necessary to protect United States interests and citizens.
Twitter may not be a real public square, and ultimately the company may be found to be within its rights, both legal and moral, for engaging in this activity. After all, there’s no law stating that an online platform must remain neutral, or that every person will have the opportunity to have their voice heard, or presented on equal terms. It’s a private space. A private platform can even push any idea, user, political ideology, or candidate that they choose.
However, there are vast implications, and Americans should be prompted to consider that our digital realities are heavily controlled and managed. Maybe people will start to realize that online life is not reality. Still, it is good to question whether the F.B.I. maintains healthy relationships with companies operating in the digital social space.
Hopefully, Mr. Musk will retain his commitment to forging the new Twitter as a space where “free speech absolutism” reigns. Already, Musk has been criticized for banning legacy U.S. news service journalists like the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advised Mr. Musk to “lay off the proto-fascism,” and encouraged him to “disconnect.”
You’re a public figure. An extremely controversial and powerful one.
I get feeling unsafe, but descending into abuse of power + erratically banning journalists only increases the intensity around you.
Take a beat and lay off the proto-fascism. Maybe try putting down your phone. https://t.co/BniyYUqWMY
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 16, 2022
Even the United nations and European Union have made public statements condemning the move. (By now, all suspended journalists’ accounts have been reinstated, as per results of a Twitter survey asking users what they thought should happen: Instantaneous reinstatement or restoration of privileges after a week, as per Twitter’s rules? The public chose the former.)
It all began with the @ElonJet account on Twitter, run by a techie who scrapes, and then compiles, publicly available data and presents it in an easy-to-access-and-digest form to the internet public. The account was suspended after Twitter determined it had violated the rules. Earlier in the week, an unknown individual had jumped on a car that was carrying Mr. Musk’s son, X. The thing is, revealing where a plane is differs from revealing where a person is. Can we truly say that this is doxxing?
Critics teased that Musk supported free speech absolutism, yet banned the private jet tracker account. In fact, Musk’s move is understandable, and really encourages the safety of all Twitter users, including head Twit, Elon. We should be glad that these sorts of accounts will not proliferate. This was a good development; equating it with suppressing free speech is disingenuous. Doxxing can happen even when a person’s address and personal information is out there on the web; just because a person’s location is online does not mean that doxxing is not a possibility. It’s all in the intent, but besides that, posting that personal information, regardless of whether it can be found elsewhere online. Elon was right. Giving out his “assassination coordinates” undoubtedly makes it easier for a would-be assassin to find Musk, perhaps someone obsessed with celebrities who now has an easy target.
What do you think now that Elon Musk tweeted that his pronouns are “Prosecute, Fauci”? While many love Fauci and even have tattoos bearing his visage, others are not quite so enamored of the decades-long NIH director. Senator Rand Paul, for one, strongly believes that Dr. Fauci has been derelict in his duties and may be responsible for more harm than good, with regard to COVID-19 and his response. The fact is, not even every reputable scientist agrees with the “accepted science” regarding COVID 19. There are yet many questions posed by even researchers working deep within this niche; it’s not unanimous, science rarely is. Remember, science works with theories. Over time, theories must evolve as new data comes in.
Also, there’s the aspect of trolling people who use “personalized” pronouns. Mr. Musk’s son recently came out as wishing to transition to a woman; it seems Elon is on a quest to avenge those pushing this narrative, perhaps feeling a bit like his son had been brainwashed. However, in this author’s humble opinion, this is probably not the keenest way of winning back the affections of his son. LGBTQAI+ individuals fear Twitter is no longer going to be a safe space for them. In a sense, Elon is cleaning up what he likely perceives as a communistic child-programming platform, a place formerly dedicated to getting kids to become “woke.” Remember kids, liberal is not woke. Wokeness is a specific worldview, while liberalism is a more general philosophy. Vengeance for losing his son to this “mind virus,” as Elon calls it.
What about stopping child porn on Twitter? Mr. Musk seems to have put the kibosh on that, at least for the moment. With fewer workers in the Twitter Trust and Safety department, Twitter must now rely on A.I. and algorithmic methods of detecting content associated with child abuse and human trafficking. With curtailing child sexual exploitation content as Elon’s “Priority #1,” we know for sure that his goals in acquiring Twitter were far from being about profit. Of course, if Musk profits along the way, what harm is done?
With all this considered, it’s hard to miss that Elon Musk’s life seems rather chaotic these days. Major media outlets ran stories today accusing Elon of being “on drugs,” referencing his past use of entheogens. However, it’s difficult to truly determine what’s going on. Is it all an act? Part of the Musk Grand Plan? Elon just doing his thing, working 24/7 until his goals are accomplished?
From here, Elon could easily move toward national politics, perhaps seeking the 2024 or 2028 presidential nomination from the Republicans. Elon has become increasingly political as of late; could he be positioning himself for a presidential run? With this guy, anything is possible.
Will Twitter one day include Dogecoin somehow? Or, will masses of people who believed in Elon and threw their life savings into the coin because they perceived him as some sort of latter-day tech saint, slowly walk away, disillusioned? Will Twitter 2.0 rocket past the Twitter of yore?
It’s all very exciting. Will it all tumble down as Elon begins to become ungrounded as media reports claim? All this as Elon cashes out on over three billion in Tesla stock, and TSLA continues to plummet. Will this be Tesla’s end, outpaced by the Big Three? Will Elon’s accusers see their day in court, claiming DOGE was, in fact, “a hustle” as Elon teased on SNL? We shall see. We shall see.
I recently met a young couple who were Elon fans, nay, “stans,” to use the newest-latest parlance. They had a Shiba Inu dog and their kids’ room was decorated with pictures of rockets and Shiba Inu dogs. They believe in Elon. Time will tell if their trust was misplaced, but judging from online chatter, Elon’s fans are loving it, but some of his admirers on the Left, and to the Center, may have moved on.
Elon also just banned the linking out to accounts on Facebook, Mastodon, Instagram, and other social networking platforms. From a purely semantic viewpoint, this may not make the most sense and definitely won’t stop the bleeding of the userbase. Posting a link to one of the above web sites will get a Twitter user’s account suspended. (edit Dec 19,2020: This policy has already been reversed.)
At this point, Elon may move on. A Twitter poll conducted yesterday garnered results that show that a majority of Twitter users would like Elon to step down as CEO. Will Elon yield? The saga continues…
You misspelled Kanye West as Kanye Werst.
I’M SURE IT WAS A MISTAKE. 100%.
That is so disrespectful and clearly racist.
Your boy Ye is clearly disrespectful to my entire f*****g family and community. What? What? Find a new hero. This guy is a zero.
I don’t think this dude knows on SI after hearing someone say WHAT WHAT is usually followed by. Guess he can come here and find out.
What does this even mean?
I AM THE ZERO HERE! lol
What defines doxxing? I mean, as goes for journalists? How are they supposed to know? It’s a sticky situation, I feel.
Why would you want to be known as a zero? What’s with the desire to look like you haven’t slept in a week? I don’t get it.
Could you have been any ruder? Oh, I notice that you are not logged in like most people who comment on here. Hiding much?
Leave this girl alone. She could have circles from crying, from lack of sleep, a lot of things. It’s not your business.
And you don’t know why she chose zero for a name. Who cares? Why are you coming on here to judge commenting people? You aren’t even talking about the article. This is called hijacking the thread. And you did it to just be rude and heartless.
Why do you care?
It is really not.
1. There must be intention to create havoc.
2. Information on where to find the person, or their home, or their work, or their friends and relatives must be posted.
3. If the info appears elsewhere, that doesn’t change the crime. Taking that info, posting it online, and directing people to harass. That’s the crime there.
“The game has changed. No longer will there be virtual hand-holding; no longer will Twitter baby us, protect us like infants in the care of a cagey digital tiger mother. Remember, many pioneers headed out West in covered wagons, risking all, simply because they were seeking a world freer than the stifling society back East.”
Oh, you mean the STOLEN LAND back East was getting overcrowded, so they needed to steal more land out West? Um hmmm….
Throughout history, all land has changed hands. Even in Africa.
You know, I think we stole the land, too. But just providing context.
The reservations are a good idea. Just wondering why the NYC Indians didn’t get a piece of land nearer to here, the profit-center?
Sucks for them…would have been cool if they had a thrid of SI. Would be casinos and forest. Probably bears and coyotes ans wolves and mountain lions there.
The Indians are not saints. Nor were they. They would sell out like anyone else.
I hope he doesn’t resign
How is it that I just got “WBLS” as my code for the capcha? No cap, I sense this weirdness has a reason
The CAPTCHA generating system is entirely random. There would be absolutely no way that anyone could influence this. It’s re-generated every time a reader hits a new page.
Please do not read into this as anything more than a fluke. Perhaps it’s the universe speaking to you. Maybe a message wound into the very thread of creation?
It was completely random. It only means what you ascribe to it.
We sometimes get some interesting CAPTCHA codes. So it’s not entirely a new idea to us.
You’re welcome here. If ever you feel you’re not, please let us know via e-mail or telephone call.
-Editorial Board at the Staten Islander.
The universe does speak to us all if we actually listen.
was it actually “W B L S” or was it:
W 6 L S
W B 1 S
W B L 5
W 6 L 5
Elon’s str8 gangsta’
Twitter is a private space and the FBI is just protecting us.
Stop making a case out of nothing.
I know you read everything everywhere that prints a word about you.
So, hi! Bro, hope all is well in S.F. !! !! !!
Get some sleep! And, don’t forget the protein! 😉
Anyway, blocking outgoing links isn’t the best idea. Good to see that policy was 86ed quickly.
Hope Twitter rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
dont lose the young ppl Elon.
I will leave Twitter because I am not looking to go on another Facebook with my aunts and Mom.
This is the only article saying that the Wild West is a good thing.
The Wild West has been memorialized in film. Why? What about that scene do we all love?
wild west the way to go
Why did you write so little about Dr. Faustey?