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Elon Musk wants power, not free speech

Elon Musk Elon Musk

BY CLAIRE MOM

Since Elon Musk announced his bid to buy Twitter, the internet has been heavy with uncertainty over the future of the social media platform. Asides from being the richest man in the world, Musk has bagged other titles under his heavy belt. He is a coloniser of planets, a digital lord and now a free speech absolutist. 

Less than 5 months ago, Time was under heavy criticism for naming Musk as ‘Person of the Year’. Today, the magazine might have been understated. Hardly any other person has gained control over the industries that shape the world; electric transportation, artificial intelligence, space travel, autonomous driving and now, social media. 

His inventions are genius, to say the least. And his motive? While some have been relieving, like the auto driving feature of the Tesla, the others leave a questionable imprint on the mind. For instance, his plans to evacuate humanity to Mars should Earth become unsustainable and implant chips in humans to treat neural disorders have left many alarmed. A feeling his counterparts would rather describe as ignorance. 

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Now, he claims his reason to take over Twitter is to promote free speech and to “unlock” Twitter’s “extraordinary potential”.

This is funny considering Musk’s personal commitment to free speech is limiting. He has constantly clamped down on any speech that has the potential to ruin his economic interests while constantly bashing Twitter’s leadership. As a matter of fact, he depicted Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal in a tweet as Joseph Stalin, a Soviet dictator with a knack for silencing his subjects. If Musk is so against censorship, why doesn’t he practise what he preaches?

He continues to shoot himself in the leg on the very platform he seeks to buy which is no surprise why he made his audacious desire to own it. Once, he cancelled a blogger’s Tesla order after a ‘rude’ post. Continuously, he attacks journalists who write critical articles about his electric car company. A constant war of dishing out what he cannot take. 

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Among his plans for Twitter is to not only promote free speech but preserve legal speech. His strategy is to limit “the spam and scam bots, and the bot armies that are [on] Twitter”. This is no doubt a wonderful cancellation of visual disruptions on the app. However, while the bots are certainly a nuisance, they are nonetheless legal speech. 

Musk must choose his words appropriately.

He has been described by his employees as incredibly unpredictable. This simply means he could wake up one day and do whatever he pleases. It begs the question of his true intentions for the social media platform he has acquired. What could this mean for Twitter’s 229 million users?

With a total net worth of $252 billion, the ability to drive and influence global conversations is out of the question. 

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Buying Twitter is just a check on his bucket list. 

One thing is certain, world power has become more concentrated than ever. By taking Twitter private, the company’s shares will not trade on public exchanges. This means Musk’s power and control over decisions of the platform will be limitless and he will have few obligations to make those decisions public. 

Musk sure has one thing – ambition.  And when ambition fuels a desire to succeed, nothing can stand in the way.

Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist. Reach her via email @[email protected]

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Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.
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