Many of Elon Musk’s critics seem to think he’s an overzealous champion of free speech. In fact, while reinstating noxious right-wing voices, Musk has been censoring the Left.
By Branko Marcetic, November 29, 2022
No one should’ve honestly believed Elon Musk would use his ownership of Twitter to champion free speech. Besides the fact that the man is a professional bullshitter, it was always dubious that a guy who slaps employees with gag orders and bars them from wearing pro-union messages had a genuine commitment to the proverbial marketplace of ideas.
No one is more eager to hawk the idea of Musk as a free-speech warrior, of course, than Musk himself, who framed his growing entanglement in the social media platform around defending the principle, and recently retweeted a satirical headline charging that he’d “threaten free speech on Twitter by literally allowing people to speak freely.” Reportedly telling staff he wanted the platform to be “the digital town square” by “represent[ing] people with a wide array of views even if we disagree with those views,” Musk has reinstated a spate of reactionary Twitter accounts that had been suspended, including those of Jordan Peterson, Project Veritas, and former president Donald Trump.
But it’s looking more and more like the Tesla CEO’s supposed commitment to free expression only goes as far as his own political biases. At the same time that Musk has been playing footsy with noxious right-wing figures and giving a voice back to their faves, he’s also banned a string of left-wing accounts ― seemingly at the prodding of those same noxious voices.