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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


OPINION: Elon Musk should not own Twitter

Antonia Muskat

A student checks Twitter on their phone on Nov. 17 at the University of Arizona. 

Elon Musk has officially bought and taken ownership of the popular social media outlet Twitter. This comes months after Musk first contacted the former CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, to express his interest in the future direction of social media. From the time he contacted Dorsey to the time of his acquisition of Twitter, Musk attempted to get out of the deal and postpone it multiple times. 

The main reason Musk decided to buy Twitter was because of his concern for embracing free speech and “helping humanity.” This in itself is an unrealistic claim, and Musk seems to be doing this simply because of his arrogance and because he can, not because he wants to help humanity, whatever that may mean to him. 

Musk clearly does not understand or does not care about the harm that can arise from mass disinformation. It seems that Musk believes allowing disinformation to reign without censorship is allowing free speech to flourish. One of Elon Musk’s original plans for Twitter was to unban former President Donald Trump (which has since happened). According to the Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, free speech does not allow the right to incite imminent lawless action, especially like that of the events on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump also repeatedly denied the election results with no factual backing on his Twitter account on that day. He claimed that the states wanted a redo on their votes because they “voted on a fraud.” Allowing speech like this on Twitter only brings more harm than good. 

Furthermore, Musk seems to be contradicting himself when it comes to disinformation and dishonesty. On Nov. 7, Musk tweeted remarks about parody accounts, stating that if the account owners did not disclose that it was a parody account, they would be banned. This decision from Musk came after users changed their usernames to his own name and began mocking the billionaire. So, do parody accounts count as dishonesty and disinformation, especially if they are making claims about who they are pretending to be, and is stopping disinformation important? Or does it only matter if it is personally affecting Elon Musk? If these accounts are worthy of being suspended from the platform, so are others who spew false information and incite violence. 

Musk also suggested charging verified accounts an $8 monthly subscription to have their blue checkmarks next to their names. If parody accounts are so harmful to the platform, Musk should want users verified easily and for free. These actions of trying to monetize Twitter and banning parody accounts are excellent displays of Musk’s contradicting behavior regarding disinformation and free speech.

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To make matters worse, Musk himself does not seem to know where to get reliable information from. On Oct. 30, while being owner of the company, Musk tweeted a link to a news article regarding Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, the victim of a recent attack. The news article Musk was referring to was from a site that claims to be a news site but only spews baseless conspiracy theories. Though he deleted the tweet, it is concerning that the man who is claiming to care about free speech and letting the truth thrive uses his influence to spread false information. 

The even bigger concern regarding this Twitter takeover is how much more influential and powerful Elon Musk will become. The wealthiest man alive gaining control over a large social media outlet begs the question of how much more power he and other billionaires may attempt to grab moving forward. How much influence will he gain in politics since Twitter is a largely political platform? While I can hope he will use his newfound platform for good, there is reason to suspect that his new position may further political corruption and steer the United States closer to a plutocracy, making average citizens’ problems even more out of touch with the politicians and people in power who represent them. 

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Luke Lawson (he/him) is a sophomore intending to major in accounting. He enjoys discussing political events, hiking and watching films.

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