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Twitter heads into deep water with political moderation

Twitter heads into deep water with political moderation

Shaun M Jooste

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Yes, it’s Elon at the helm again. We all know how much he’s been preaching that Twitter should contain free speech, unadulterated and transparent in all its beauty. As we head to the U.S. Presidential Elections, things are going to become trickier for Musk. 

He’s going to have to decide how much free speech he’s willing to accept or if there’s a definite line. Let’s look at the latest mess that Elon Musk has gotten Twitter into.

The Twitter Files

One of the latest cases involves someone hacking into Hunter Bidon’s laptop and distributing evidence of an inappropriate conversation between him and his father, President Joe Biden, regarding a meeting with a business client. Now, I’m sure many of you might find that discussion interesting, but I’m more fascinated by how it impacts Twitter and Elon’s moderation control.

Tweeter Matt Taibbi was eager to share many screenshots on Twitter for everyone that was interested. Even Musk when as far as to hype many of his tweets. It has since become known as TheTwitter Files, which I assume is a wordplay on The X Files. The images contained evidence of messages and emails that would have been removed in the former Twitter regime.

And why were they removed in the past? Well, the company behind Twitter had a policy against sharing hacked information, never mind inciting violence or showing bias in presidential elections. At the moment, there isn’t any clarity on whether or not any of these so-called files actually belong to Hunter Bidon. That doesn’t stop anyone from insinuating it, though.

While the New York Post originally posted the news, they withdrew it following government pressure to remove it. What happened on Twitter? There seems to be some moderation of the content, something that Jack Dorsey, CEO of the platform, had a massive issue with. After all, if Musk was going to practice free speech, why was he turning the tables on this matter?

Twitter and Musk tangle with politics

Reinstating suspended accounts

Based on a poll that Musk took a few weeks ago, he decided to reinstate Donald Trump on Twitter. Other accounts that were suspended before were also reinstated following Elon’s resolve to have free speech back on the table. Even Kanye West, now known as Ye, had his account briefly back in his possession. Yet, Musk suspended him again. So much for free speech.

The thing is that we need to take a closer look at why Musk is moderating and still blocking some accounts. He doesn’t want anyone on the platform inciting violence. The latest act of Ye was to place a swastika symbol within the Star of David, which Elon decided to message the artist about. Ye then followed up with a response that asked him who made him the judge. 

Which is a really good question.

Twitter and Musk tangle with politics

Is Elon a judge, jury, and executioner on Twitter?

Look, we all know that Elon Musk now owns Twitter, so he can pretty much do whatever he wants with it. Yet, it’s one thing to preach about transparency and freedom of speech, and another to perform acts against your own preaching. What we want to know is, how much moderation power does he actually have when it comes to politics? 

Will we see tweets allowed or removed based on Musk’s whim? Will he favor one party over another, simply because it’s his platform, and he can post what he wants? At the moment, it looks like he’ll have to put on his big-boy pants as the presidential elections appear, as he’s going to have a lot of moderation on his hands.

As we all know, the presidential elections create a hotbed for hate speech and inciting violence. When voting comes around, Elon’s going to have to step up and check millions of tweets across the platform. Or, he can leave it in the hands of the remaining staff in Twitter HQ after firing so many of them. Will we see transparency in how this moderation will work, or will random tweets simply vanish before we can set our eyes on them?

Twitter and Musk tangle with politics

Tumultuous times ahead

One thing is sure: Twitter has some hard times ahead. It’s not clear yet how much power the politicians have over Elon Musk and what he allows and disallows. All we can do is wait and keep monitoring as he makes strange decisions, hopefully without any bias. And with Donald Trump back on the scene, we’re sure to hear all his thoughts and opinions on the elections. Let’s hope that he doesn’t incite too much violence.

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