Twitter’s relaxation of content rules will spawn hate speech – The Oberlin Review

On April 25, Elon Musk reached an agreement with Twitter’s board of directors to buy the company for around $44 billion. The acquisition will take place over a few months, but Musk, who regularly uses the platform to engage with his 90 million subscribers, has already set out a few of his goals for the platform, including reducing bots and increasing “freedom of expression”. He said he sees the platform as a public square where everyone should be able to share their opinions, and clearly he has no intention of limiting hate speech or the spread of conspiracy theories. on the platform. Instead, it will likely allow them to flourish under the guise of free speech.

In several past interviews, Musk has defended his own comments on the platform by comparing it to a warzone. The Tesla CEO is known to be openly transphobic, tweeting that “all these pronouns are an aesthetic [sic] nightmare” in 2020, and he often flatters right-wing free speech advocates who simply want the right to bully others online. Additionally, the billionaire used his personal account to harass Twitter employees and encouraged his large fanbase to attack other users until they close their accounts.

Even if this history would be problematic for most companies, Twitter shareholders are clearly looking for the operation that will be the most financially advantageous to them in the short term. If Musk’s takeover looks like he’s planning, many users opposed to his vision of an unregulated tweet might decide to leave the platform, which has been a focus of debate for some time. around freedom of expression. After the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill, the platform banned former President Trump, dethroning him from his favored communication channel and angering many of his supporters. Many conservative advocates have denounced this as an attack on free speech, but as a private company, Twitter is well within its rights to decide what belongs and doesn’t belong on the platform.

Users who have accused the social media platform of censoring their opinions are hoping Musk’s takeover will free their speech and opinions from the “restrictive” guidelines of the Twitter community. However, the platform has spent the past decade maintaining what it considered freedom of speech with little moderation, realizing only that the lack of moderation was creating instability among its more than 200 million users. during the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections. Misinformation about political and social issues became widespread and harassment of targeted groups increased sharply during times when Twitter took a more passive approach to moderation. Twitter has since made a weak attempt to curb hate speech and conspiracy theories, often looking the other way when such rhetoric comes from senior officials in what appears to be a move to boost the platform’s popularity by sparking controversy.

With Musk in charge, any progress Twitter has made in its attempts to moderate bullies and lies will quickly fade away, and the public square of social media will once again be open to hate speech.

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