Make Twitter Great Again
The prognosis for free speech in America promises marked improvement.
Elon Musk is soon expected to take over Twitter Inc., following the company’s acceptance of his $45 billion offer.
Musk has pledged to promote free speech, which he described as “the bedrock of a functioning democracy.” I for one am cautiously optimistic that Elon can Make Twitter Great Again.
I’m optimistic because I believe Musk is a capable leader and entrepreneur who will stand by his principles. But I’m cautious because of the ferocity of the opposition from powerful opponents of free speech. Musk’s agenda, which is simply free speech on Twitter, threatens the institutions in the United States which are both beneficiaries of, and responsible for, coordinated online censorship.
The primary beneficiaries of online censorship are other Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google. Wielding monopolistic-level market share and using clandestine algorithms, these corporations enjoy the self-appointed roles of gatekeeper in the Information Age.
Google can capriciously change which news outlets to amplify, which political candidates to boost, and which businesses to promote. As a result, opinions change, votes shift, reputations are ruined, and businesses can either boom or burn.
But Big Tech censorship only works if separate platforms adopt identical policies, which is exactly how the cartel operates. Look how they each handled the Hunter Biden laptop story, COVID, and Kyle Rittenhouse in the same way.
If Facebook had blocked all posts saying vaccinated people can spread COVID, but Twitter had allowed them, then Facebook’s censorship would be exposed as arbitrary and wrong. That would impair the company’s credibility, drive users away, and hurt Facebook’s bottom line.
Ideally, that scenario would represent the “free market of ideas” in action. But Big Tech has rigged the information market. They’ve created a syndicate by informally coordinating to suppress certain information and ideas from spreading anywhere. If one company defects then the syndicate collapses.
Facebook and Google are threatened by a free Twitter for the same reason that the mainstream media is threatened by a user-based platform like Substack, and the reason the media was so hostile to tech companies before censorship really started. That’s why Apple and Google are already threatening to pull Twitter from their app stores.
Other members of the information cartel include non-government organizations (NGOs)—advocacy groups, think tanks, and major charitable foundations. NGOs, terrified that Musk is a “free speech absolutist” who will permit “hate speech” to dominate the platform, are mobilizing against him.
This is no surprise, as these groups, like the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others, are funded by the likes of George Soros and have a track record of undermining American sovereignty and values. These organizations oppose Musk for the same reason they have opposed efforts to stop online censorship. They actively cheer censorship, and want America to adopt European-style “hate speech” laws, where you can be fined thousands of dollars or even sent to prison for saying or posting online things deemed “hateful.” The European Union, which, in its own words, “accepts NGO involvement in policy- and decision-making as not only a necessity, but as a requirement,” is frightened of what Musk might do with Twitter. They are even arguing that an American company shouldn’t be allowed to have free speech because of the EU’s hate speech laws.
The Democrat Party is also sounding alarms about the potential threat of Musk’s buyout of Twitter. Former President Barack Obama, the Biden administration, and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner, and Jeff Merkley have all expressed profound concern, going so far as to label the development “dangerous for our democracy.”
These admonitions come as no surprise either. After all, this is the same party which wants Big Tech to censor more; which enjoys a codependent relationship with these companies to root out “disinformation” online; and whose base is increasingly supportive of the government banning lawful speech. Should Musk make Twitter’s algorithms open source—as he’s said he’ll do—Twitter’s partisan policies will be exposed. Democrats will have to fess up to the fact they owe their power in large measure to this censorship regime.
Finally, mainstream media is categorically opposed to Musk. Outlets from CNN to NBC to the Washington Post to the New York Times have come out swinging, with pronouncements that the changeup at Twitter HQ will “probably suck for women” and that only “straight white men” will enjoy free speech.
What’s clear is that the media is against anyone or anything which presents a threat to the beliefs of the information cartel. The media deified Anthony Fauci—even when he was wrong—and others in the medical establishment while they actively suppressed anyone who dared to question prevailing narratives on the virus.
For two-plus years, the media amplified the official narrative that masking was/is effective (it wasn’t); that vaccines would prevent the spread of the virus (they haven’t); and that there was no way the virus came from a lab (it likely did). Mainstream corporate media went out of its way to mock, punish, and silence any voices of even mild dissent. A Twitter where free speech thrives threatens media companies that rely on widespread censorship to hide their blatant partisanship and chronic distortion of the truth.
Musk’s Twitter takeover represents the single greatest threat to the information cartel to date. Some of the main players in this cartel—NGOs, Democrat politicians, and media corporations—face the prospect of narrative collapse. Elon Musk should know that, insofar his plans for Twitter include restoring free speech to the platform, he will be attacked at each step by the element of society that stands to benefit from censorship and the status quo. I hope he is ready, because the American people are certainly ready for a restoration of free speech online.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.