I've been on Twitter for 15 fucking years this May and have - as of this post - over 51,000 Tweets. I'm a power user of the Twitter platform; not just a consumer of other people's Tweets, but an active participant in the discourse.
All that to say, I'm not too excited about the $44 billion purchase of Twitter from Elon Musk.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
That sounds good, but taking Twitter private means that we're all held captive to Musk's vision of free speech. I'm not alone in my worries that Twitter will slide into Gab or 8kun territory where absolute free speech is allowed.
In a statement following news of the acquisition, Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, struck a cautious tone.
"Do not allow Twitter to become a petri dish for hate speech, or falsehoods that subvert our democracy," Johnson said in part. "Protecting our democracy is of utmost importance, especially as the midterm elections approach. Mr. Musk: lives are at risk, and so is American democracy.”
I couldn't agree more.