Elon Musk is no saint, but much of the media is demonizing him
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The message is unmistakable: We’re all doomed!
This could be the end for civilization as we know.
Elon Musk, in reaching a deal to buy Twitter, has found himself being slapped harder than Chris Rock as he tries to complete his $44 billion takeover of the company. Also kicked, punched and compared with a Bond movie villain – that last one from Washington Post sports pages.
“Twitter Under Elon Will Be a Scary Place,” says a New York Times opinion columnist.
But there’s a problem. It’s already scary. For all its great strengths in spreading news, building community and hosting national conversations, it’s also a dark neighborhood where people get attacked, mocked and threatened, and where misinformation thrives.
Employees at tables inside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 17, 2022. Shares of Twitter Inc. jumped following the takeover announcement by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, narrowing the gap between the $54. 20 offer price and the stocks closing level Monday to $2. 50/share, for a deal spread of 4.8% as of Monday close.
(Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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That’s all without Musk, who won’t take over for months. This is based on current management. It’s striking that Jack Dorsey, co-founder of the company, says that Musk is the “singular solution”. “
Let’s face the facts, much of the reaction is tribal. The meltdown among liberal media types, who once loved Musk because he aided the environment with electric cars, now see him as the embodiment of evil. Media conservatives, who used to be wary of the richest man in the world, now see him as a hero.
He could disappoint both sides. Content moderation is a problem that has stung Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, and other tech giants. We know that the journalistic naysayers claiming he was just trying to get publicity or ego, turned out to be flat wrong.
As to the pearl-clutchers that say it’s wrong to have a billionaire wield such media power, I’m having trouble recalling any uproar about Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post by Musk.
Now Musk is not a Boy Scout. He can be impulsive and petty. He made a snide joke about Bill Gates the other day, complete with an emoji of a pregnant woman.
Musk is known for being extremely tough on his staff. He has imposed non-disclosure agreements on staffers at Tesla, and he and the company have told journalists they must submit their stories for advance review (fat chance). Some employees have complained about unsafe working conditions and racial discrimination. He was once fined by the SEC for inappropriately tweeting about Tesla’s privatization.
A New York portfolio manager who repeatedly criticized Tesla online told Mediaite that Musk left a message threatening to sue him and drag his boss into the litigation.
This photo illustration shows the Twitter logo on a smartphone that has Elon Musk’s official Twitter account.
(Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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But his own excesses aside, Musk’s biggest challenge is to draw the line between allowing voices to flourish and making it even easier to slime people on the app. Some journalists are preparing for the worst. Twitter lost a lot of credibility with the right by banning Donald Trump (who said he doesn’t want to resume his Twitter account) and by censoring Hunter Biden’s laptop story (which was confirmed over a year later by “reputable” news outlets). These questions have been faced by other Silicon Valley giants.
Perhaps Musk’s rallying cry, after the Twitter board accepted his bid, was this:
“I hope that even my worst critics remain on Twitter, because that is what free speech means. “
Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter in a deal worth more than $43 billion and take the social media company private.
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But yesterday he couldn’t help but take note of the media freakout:
“The extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all. “
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And: “By ‘free speech,’ I simply mean that which matches the law. I oppose censorship that goes beyond the law. “
This will be a major technological shift for Twitter.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.