Scott Tibbs

Elon Musk is not a true ally of free speech

By Scott Tibbs, May 24, 2023

Elon Musk has been hailed by the Right as a champion of free speech. Despite praise from the Right, Musk has not been a consistent defender of free speech, and is prone to childish censorship. Musk has also made some tactical errors in how he has managed old features.

First, to the verification: The advantage of having verified accounts was twofold: To prevent impersonation of public figures and to help Twitter's millions of users know that the account they are following is indeed the real deal. This adds an extra importance when dealing with candidates for office or government officials. Stripping free accounts of blue checks makes things murkier than they should be. Twitter would be wise to go back to the old policy of verifying "notable" accounts.

The much bigger problem, though, is how Musk handles free speech. After promising to make Twitter a more open platform, Musk has collapsed to pressure from the genocide-denying Recep Erdoğan regime in Turkey. Musk restricted the reach of some Tweets there in order to appease Erdoğan, and was very defensive about it. This action should be especially alarming for Christians, since it was an Islamic terrorist regime persecuting Christian Armenians that led to the mass murder of as many as 1.2 million people, and the gang rape and torture of many others.

Contrast Musk's cowardly "leadership" at Twitter to Andrew Torba of Gab Social. When a foreign government demanded that Gab restrict content, Gab said they are an American company that follows American laws, and Gab is therefore not bound by the demands of other nations. If Musk's so-called "commitment" to free speech bows to the whims of autocrats and tyrants, then he does not have any real commitment at all. Free speech absolutist? Hardly!

Our own national leaders can defend free speech by protecting American companies from foreign interference. It would take a simple act of Congress to make it clear that American social media companies are bound only by American laws, and that foreign governments have absolutely no jurisdiction over the operations of American social media companies on American soil.

This is not to say there have been no improvements at Twitter. There certainly have been. But Musk is clearly not as committed to free speech as celebrity-worshiping "conservatives" fantasize him to be. If conservatives really want Twitter to be a place for free speech, we need to hold Musk accountable.

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