The news of Elon Musk’s deal to acquire Twitter has made it around the world and back again a few times. Social media somehow still has the ability to share information. Not bad for a dying product. While many celebrate the Twitter takeover and promises of a makeover, there is a glaring omission from the discussion – why would anyone want to buy Twitter, especially now? Mr. Musk surely is making the purchase for numerous reasons, but can he save a dying Twitter?
Mr. Musk certainly can save Twitter if he really is able to bring back the free speech that Twitter lost or perhaps, chose, to throw away. Free speech has many intangible benefits beyond a $44 billion price tag. The owner of KTBC, Texas Broadcasting Corp, in Austin, Texas, the only TV station there at the time, later became the President of the United States. President Johnson (and both Bush’s, for that matter) also experienced the sharp consequences of free speech when anti-war speech wrecked their establishments and brought down their entire political parties.
Free speech can be unpredictable and hard to control, just as Big Tech and Twitter have learned at great expense – they are not too big to fail. In the past, Twitter, Facebook (Meta), and many other big tech social media companies were indeed once profitable powerhouses of free speech. Today, the once-robust influence yielded by social platforms has diminished to become nothing more than left-wing echo chambers.
Content designed to balance postings or proactively contribute to the marketplace of ideas often ends up censored or with ridiculous footnotes. Innocent and accurate content has resulted in restricted and banned users. Leadership fails in any attempt to appear fair as they attack ideas and erode free speech. Frankly, it has become predictable and boring, explaining why so many users (just like Jack Dorsey and me) bailed.
The successor ideology of the political left worries that if Elon Musk brings his Free Speech absolutist philosophy to Twitter, their control of ideas and dis-information will experience a tragic end. Trump may rise again from the ashes of censorship. Only censorship has the power to make Trump a victim. The battle of billionaires may produce a new President the successors can’t control. No more censorship of conservatives, COVID-19 facts, and the economic disaster the left has caused.
The big tech media corporations have gone way beyond being just communication mediums. These entities are writing, controlling, and editing the media stories with little regard for truth or actual events. While those attempting to erase history and censor the present have won (temporarily) and are able to appease their shrinking base, the Musk acquisition may prove a formidable obstacle. While he may have the best intentions, it will take more than his ownership to frustrate and disrupt the international left’s pursuit of power.
With the way Twitter has deteriorated so far, it is puzzling why Musk could still possibly want it. People are leaving. Alternatives are on the rise. The counsel that many business leaders give, ‘never catch a falling knife,’ has failed to influence this transaction.
While the left is running scared, Musk is already reaching out to convey he hopes all his critics stay on the platform. Of course, he wants critics on the left to stay (other than bots), as they are the only ones left. He is right when he shared that competing ideas is what free speech is all about.
Those on the right who are celebrating and considering coming back to the platform may also be quickly disappointed. President Trump has already said he isn’t returning to Twitter. Few, if any, could draw engagement like he can. Once he embraces his new platform, Truth Social, more will follow.
The warnings are everywhere that embracing woke culture at the expense of Free Speech will ultimately fail. Just like with traditional media (and CNN Plus), social media empires are falling.
While Musk surely knows open-minded individuals are hungry for a fair platform that welcomes all ideas and ignores the cancel culture – he is likely too late to save Twitter.
When information from multiple perspectives is shared, better ideas and action result – and it is more exciting, too. Perhaps not as exciting as a car that drives itself or a mission to Mars. For someone who has done so much to shape the future positively and influence opinions (for the better and worse), buying Twitter seems to be a step backward.
Shaun McCutcheon is a Free Speech advocate, an Alabama-based electrical engineer and inventor. He was the successful plaintiff in the 2014 Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. FEC.