Let’s speak up about bullying on Twitter

What exactly does he think can’t be said on the platform right now? It’s certainly not hard to find debunked scientific theories about race, arguments that women are intellectually inferior, anti-Semitic comments, defenses of white supremacy, and transphobic rants still on the platform even with the current policy in place. It’s easy to assume that the censored expression Musk espouses is even worse than that. As the comedian said Michael Che in Saturday night Livethe $44 billion deal shows “how eager white people are to use ‘the n-word’.”

This is all a moral and ethical argument for retaining moderation policies, but what’s most disconcerting about Musk’s crusade is that it’s hard to see how removing them would be good for business. Currently, the demographics of Twitter tend towards the male population. If Twitter wants to grow its business further and increase its profitability, which seems to be its goal, it needs to broaden its reach. Making the platform hostile to women and minorities is not conducive to expansion unless you believe that your most valuable audience is white males with conservative leanings and that they exist in ever-increasing numbers, which is false according to demographic trends.

If anything, Twitter’s history indicates that when the platform opens doors to a variety of people, the user base grows. When the biggest Twitter troll of them all, former President Donald Trump, was kicked off the platform in January 2021, there was research that suggested that the percentage of adults on social networks who said they use Twitter increased by 21 percent. (Trump has stated that he doesn’t intend to return to Twitter, but this column doesn’t have enough space to list everything the former president has said he wouldn’t do and then ended up doing, so be skeptical.) If the former president is invited back, it is highly plausible that some of the newer users who came after Trump left the platform.

Musk claimed that don’t want to buy twitter to make moneyBut as a successful entrepreneur, you arguably want the company, which has long struggled to be profitable, to be a success. The company’s current revenue relies heavily on ads, and in my experience, as a former media entrepreneur and former publishing editor-in-chief, advertisers generally don’t like promoting their brands next to inflammatory content; even daily political news is sometimes considered too controversial. If Musk lets Twitter become a hotbed of hate speech and misinformation, he will test the risk tolerance of the platform’s advertisers and likely find that fewer brands are willing to take the risk of appearing on tainted profiles. of people.

Of course, there is also the risk – moral and commercial – that allowing more harassment and misinformation on the platform will cause physical harm in the real world. The Pizzagate conspiracy theory of 2016, a precursor to QAnonspread widely on social media and culminated in a man firing an AR-15 rifle at a Washington DC pizza joint When people feel entitled to hurt others due to the normalization of hateful rhetoric in line, it becomes more easy for conspiracy theories to spread and turn into acts of violence. A platform that spreads that kind of rhetoric and takes a hands-off approach to misinformation not only creates an unpleasant experience for its users, it can get someone killed.

It’s entirely possible that Musk didn’t think any of this through. His public offer to buy Twitter started just a few weeks ago and since then his stated intentions have changed endlessly, accompanied by a late securities report Y confused, in addition to contradictory statements. He enjoys trolling online, and perhaps this all started as a joke that was later taken so seriously by markets, Twitter shareholders, and the public that Musk himself began to consider it.

If this is how it happened, the tycoon may not know what to do now that he got what he wanted. Tesla shares plunged after the announcement of the purchase, which could be a reflection of shareholders’ hunch that Musk may not be able to run another company effectively besides the four he already leads (Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company).

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Let’s speak up about bullying on Twitter