In between watching the scandalous FTX crypto scam unfold and making all the Thanksgiving fixings, I’ve joined Twitter, which I’ve refused to participate in for years. One reason for my about-face on the social media site is that Elon Musk, the new owner, is creating a genuine open forum and he’s actively participating as a commentator in the most amusing way.
I prefer the Facebook technical setup but despise the way it (like the former Jack Dorsey-run Twitter) uses it to stifle real debate, regularly in one way or another blocking other than left-wing views and information. In time, if Musk achieves his goal, Facebook may reform itself as well, or suffer a significant loss of participants and revenue.
The other reason for my new respect for Twitter is that the phony baloney inheritors of the mantles of the once-great Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP announced an effort to starve Twitter of advertising revenue, ostensibly because Musk was allowing hate posts on Twitter. Utter and complete nonsense. In 2019 under Dorsey, the site was full of anti-Semitic posters. ADL registered a complaint, but did nothing more. In fact, Twitter regularly allowed Ayatollah Khamenei to publish the most outrageous hate speech with no restrictions. Yair Rosenberg:
A strong case can be made that given Khamenei’s access to political and military power, the virulence of his anti-Semitism, and the way it defines his global outlook, he is the world’s most powerful anti-Semite. He denies the Holocaust while threatening another, and deploys the very rhetoric used to incite the murder of Jews for centuries while actively pursuing the nuclear weaponry that might make such murder possible. And yet Twitter, which has banned another notable world leader [Donald Trump], could not seem to care less. At least to the public eye, they have never even disciplined Khamenei’s account or required him to take down any of his most incendiary tweets, as they frequently do for ordinary users charged with lesser offenses. I have argued that there are two reasons for this: Twitter’s decision makers don’t understand anti-Semitism, and they aren’t embarrassed by it.
In fact, Twitter has until now been a host site for violent organizing by outfits like Antifa. To my knowledge this, too, has not been the impetus for ADL or NAACP to call for an advertising boycott.
In actuality, of course, the real reason for the ADL and NAACP call for an advertisers’ boycott is that Musk would no longer kowtow to their censorship role. Musk says he backed out of their offer to serve on a content moderation panel about reinstatement policies for banned accounts. He says it’s because they reneged on the deal. Mostly, it seems, they were irked because after a vote of participants, Musk reinstated Trump and will reveal who and what was behind the ban in the first place.
Professor Jonathan Turley has his own view -- the people behind the boycott liked the fact that in addition to its headlock on the MSM, they had a means to muzzle free speech on Twitter, and he lists the biggest advertisers who went along with this:
The NPR article contains this graph:
“Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Ford, Jeep, Kyndryl, Merck & Co. and Novartis AG all issued statements about halting Twitter ads or were reported and confirmed as doing so. The others ceased advertising on the platform for a “significant period of time following direct outreach, controversies, and warnings from media buyers.”
A quick review of these companies shows that many use the same vague rationale as Chipolte: that they want to wait to “gain a better understanding on the direction of the platform under its new leadership.” These companies have not expressly called for censorship. They simply say that they will not advertise with the company until that they are satisfied with the company’s new “direction.”
The assumption is that the companies were fine with the “direction” of the old Twitter in limiting free speech. In the very least, it did not seem to be a sufficient concern to prompt them to make public statements suspending advertising in prior years.
The companies have remained silent on why the prior “direction” did not appear to be a corporate concern. They did not apparently view the prior Twitter policies as barriers to advertising.
Specifically, these companies appeared to have no objections to the company maintaining one of the world’s largest and most notorious censorship systems. The blocking of the Hunter Biden laptop story did not appear to be a barrier for advertisers. The blocking of individuals offering opposing views on Covid, climate change, transgender policies or other issues was not an apparent barrier. Yet, the announced intention to restore free speech protections has warranted these suspensions.
There is also a concern that these suspensions have followed a campaign from many on the left to pressure advertisers to pull advertising funds. The public statements have been celebrated by those seeking to coerce Musk into restoring censorship on the platform. The campaign is also ramping up as Musk threatens to reveal back channel communications related to the censorship of political and social commentary. The disclosures could prove embarrassing for many in the political and media establishment.
There’s even an effort to keep the Twitter application off Apple, and Musk has a plan for that.
I certainly hope it does not come to that, but, yes, if there is no other choice, I will make an alternative phone.
And, that’s not just idle talk. Musk has plans underway for another mobile phone option for those unhappy with reports of Apple’s possible manipulations. The phone is likely to launch in December of this year or January next year.
After another online vote, Musk has offered to reinstate banned accounts next week provided the posters had not broken the law “or engaged in egregious spam.” He claims “hate speech impressions” were reduced by one-third from October 22 to November 22, and offers an explanation: “Reducing the max allowed tweets/day to a number below what a speed typist on meth could do was helpful.”
If nothing else, reading Musk’s tweets provides a lot of amusement and he skewers the pretensions of those who deserve it.
He promises Twitter will earn our trust, and his actions, including a truthful account of the events in Ferguson -- for once on this site -- among other things gives me reason to have faith in this promise. He’s also promising to disclose who worked with Twitter to keep the details of Hunter Biden’s scandalous laptop from public view.
If you have been angered by the Facebook and Twitter leftist monopolies on speech, you may want to sign up to the new Twitter to provide advertisers who stay a reason to think they’ll get a good return on their investments, and help create a real open debate forum online.