Musk's Takeover Is A Huge Step Backward For Twitter

Musk hasn’t just purchased another expensive play toy, but a global online community that includes about 330 million regular use
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Photos: YouTube\Twitter\Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON — According to press reports on Monday, Twitter’s board of directors unanimously accepted the terms of Elon Musk's $44-billion bid to buy out the company’s shareholders and take the platform private.

Prior to finalizing his offer, Musk had tweeted and discussed his plans to “transform” the social network and make “significant improvements” to the ways it manages content. A self-described free-speech absolutist, Musk has a troubling history of using the social-media network to intimidate and disparage others, including journalists, elected officials, owners of competing businesses and anyone else who might challenge his views.

Last week, Free Press and its allies in the Change the Terms coalition launched the “Fix the Feed” campaign. The initiative plans to convene high-level meetings with executives at Meta, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube, urging them to adopt core recommendations to curb the amplification of hateful, violent, misleading and false content across their platforms. Change the Terms is calling on the networks to immediately make these essential changes in all languages and enforce them in the runup to the 2022 midterms and beyond.

Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González said:

“Musk hasn’t just purchased another expensive play toy, but a global online community that includes about 330 million regular users. With control of such a massive platform comes great responsibility — and Musk hasn’t shown he has the capacity to be accountable to this diverse online community.

“For one, he hasn’t demonstrated that he’s able or interested in protecting other Twitter users or respecting their free-speech rights. Rather, he’s used the platform to attack people, often launching childish broadsides against anyone he doesn’t like or agree with. And he’s regularly rallied a Twitter mob of loyal fans to follow his lead with more vicious threats and bullying.

“For years, Free Press and the Change the Terms coalition have pressured Twitter to be more accountable about its moderation methods. This work includes fixing Twitter algorithms and other systems that promote the most misleading and hateful content, protecting its users equally regardless of where they live and what language they speak, and being more transparent about the social network’s amplification and moderation practices.

“Protecting everyone’s ability to participate and speak on online platforms requires careful moderation. Musk taking the company private will likely threaten this notion and make the platform even more toxic to its users and the public.

“With or without Musk at the helm, Twitter must take a series of actions outlined by the Fix the Feed campaign to correct known failures at the company and do right by Twitter users. The platform must continue efforts to stop amplifying bigotry and conspiracy theories that pollute public discourse, threaten the health and safety of users and undermine democracy.

“The success of any mass-market network requires making sure that users feel safe on the platform and don’t feel threatened by others. The leader of any social-media platform must take action against things like glorification and incitement of violence; the spread of disinformation, sexual harassment and abuse; and other hateful activities. These protections are essential for all platform users and not just a few prominent and powerful influencers like Musk.

“This deal has to be about more than making shareholders happy. It should be about protecting civil and human rights, public health and safety and our democracy. We will fight to ensure that Musk prioritizes these vital principles.”

Free Press is a nonpartisan organization fighting for people’s rights to connect and communicate. Free Press does not support or oppose any candidate for public office. Learn more at www.freepress.net.

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