By Jayden Thomas
On December 18th, Elon Musk posted a poll to his Twitter, asking users whether or not he should step down as head of the company, and saying he will abide by the results. While 42.5% said no, an overwhelming 57.5% said that he should. While this poll can be taken as a joke, and Musk testing a rule he implemented, making major decisions about Twitter based on the results of polls, it’s emblematic of the state of Twitter, and users reaction to it. Ever since Elon Musk bought Twitter in October of 2022 for 44 billion dollars, it’s become a sinking ship that companies and users alike are all too eager to leave.
Now, Twitter had always been a place where people would share their most toxic and real opinions, but at least there were strict guidelines and punishments in place if someone stepped out of line, but when Musk took control of Twitter, he lessened the restrictions on what people could say. It’s no surprise that in less than a week since Musk bought it, hate speech greatly increased, and companies left in mass droves. As of December 2022, over half of Twitter’s top 100 companies have left, and taken their advertisements with them.
It especially doesn’t help that Musk has done virtually nothing to address or fix the problems. One of the only notable things he has done is ban Kanye West (Ye) for his anti-semetic comments to promote his 2024 presidential campaign. However, he has let people who were already banned, like former President Donald Trump, who was banned following the attempted January 6th Insurrection, back onto Twitter. Elon Musk says he wants to make Twitter a place of free speech, and abide by the first amendment. However, Musk has apparently gone back on his claim, banning many journalists from CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, which are all left-leaning publications, for allegedly “violating Twitter’s personal privacy rule.”
According to Musk, the Thursday after these journalists were banned, they doxxed (disclosed private information about) him and his family. However, according to Matt Binder, a CNN journalist who had his account banned, he didn’t disclose anything about Musk’s personal life, private Tesla news, or anything related to his family. While the whole situation is essentially a hearsay argument, it shows how Musk is picking and choosing what he will and won’t allow on Twitter. Kanye West was making anti-semetic comments for almost a whole month before he was banned, but journalists supposedly doxx him and his family, and they’re instantly banned.
While neither actions are excusable, why is it that Musk was so hesitant to ban West, but jumped on the opportunity to ban reporters who disagreed with his views? Musk’s unwillingness to listen to others except himself is costing Twitter money, users, and reputation. It can be argued that Musk is listening to others with his new initiative to only move with major decisions without a poll going through first. And while it does show that Musk is willing to listen to the collective good, as he’s already reaching out to find a new CEO, a few days after the poll was implemented, he changed the rule so that only blue-check Twitter users (available to buy for $7 per month) can vote, as the person who gave Musk the idea said “We’re the only ones with skin in the game.”
At the end of the day, Elon Musk seemed like someone who had nothing but the best intentions for Twitter. He wanted to make it a place where people were free to express themselves and their opinions. But unfortunately, there are strings attached to that; some foreseeable, and some unforeseeable. Regardless, the fact remains that if Musk is to get Twitter back to where it once was, he’ll have to instill stricter censorship regulations.