By: Ariana Ceballos
Elon Musk, the man proclaimed the “Richest Man in the World,” shared in a recent interview that he found himself “rotating” through friends’ homes in his travels to California. But contrary to many headlines, this “homeless” struggle did not humble Musk.
Earlier this week, the mogul announced his intent on buying the social media platform, Twitter, for 44 billion dollars. Musk is no stranger to the platform with a following of 87.9 million users, who tolerate the obnoxious posts this man has to share. In his quest for the app, Musk claimed that free speech is the “bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” If Musk acquires the company, he will allow the site to be flooded with vile subjective opinions which will not improve the platform at all, as he has already been reported to be lenient on current Twitter restrictions.
As Twitter’s biggest individual shareholder, and now potential CEO, Musk’s previewed plans for the app are aligning with his beliefs that the app has restrictions on certain speech, which he plans on reconsidering. Musk is not a stranger to controversy; he once shared an insensitive image of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, comparing him to Hitler over his COVID-19 mandates. This rhetoric of hate-speech and false information is being tackled by Twitter currently, and Musk who has indulged in these posts before, now has the power to allow these posts to resurface. In acquiring Twitter, Musk will treat the platform as his own playground, promoting his beliefs and encouraging others to do so, turning the space into a more toxic site than it is today.
Twitter is a site that is already plagued by toxicity. For instance, its ban on Donald Trump’s account came after the January 6 insurrection. Before the Capitol riot, Trump fueled hate speech and had his posts flagged for false information. In a report by NPR, Shannon Bond described the means by which Elon Musk wants to change current Twitter restrictions, stating, “Musk says he thinks Twitter should allow all legal speech…here in the US that would mean leaving up things like paid speech, harassment, state-backed disinformation, spam…all things the platform limits or removes.” These restrictions are in place for a reason. Current banned posts are removed for, fueling discrimination, bullying, and false information, all things that— in recent years— have rendered serious consequences.
While the actual Twitter site will have changes, it is important to also note the worries of the employees. In the same NPR report, Bond claims, “Leadership has kept quiet during this entire saga with Musk, and a lot of staff are frustrated.” Musk is the owner of many companies, so how will he prioritize this new set of employees?
NPR reports a company-wide meeting left this question out in the open, while current Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal told his employees that “much about the future is up to Musk.” It’s evident that this buy-out needs to consider the employees of the company— not just the officials. While overall employees do not have much say, officials should be clear to them on how their position will hold. As it appears that Musk thought well about the financial transaction to get the company, it is bewildering how he is able to keep others involved with the company on their toes.
I find myself confused and astonished by this move of Musk, though he is generally very unpredictable. Who knows what will come next? At the moment, it just appears that he bought a new toy and is excited to do with it as he pleases.