Decoding the saga of “free speech” on Twitter

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 Decoding the saga of “free speech” on Twitter
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Highlights

  • Elon Musk bought Twitter for US$44 million, stating that the social network has tremendous potential to be unlocked.
  • Musk wants to boost Twitter by easing censorship restrictions and inculcating new algorithms for its better functioning.
  • The wealthiest billionaire’s recent comments have fuelled debates across social media platforms regarding “free speech”.

Elon Musk recently bought the American microblogging and social networking service Twitter. The final deal was made for US$44 billion. Earlier in April, Musk made the bid and mentioned that Twitter has “tremendous potential” that he would unlock. Days after the deal is made, a new wave of uncertainty flows about how Twitter will transform after Musk’s takeover.

The US$44 billion deal

The final transfer of management, operations and finances would occur later this year. Initially, the company had rejected Musk’s offer; however, the deal was later signed within less than two weeks. Musk has announced that he may delist the shares to have the authority over transforming Twitter’s policies. So, now people wonder how Twitter’s guidelines will change post Musk’s complete platform takeover.

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  Musk and Twitter

 What has Musk said after buying Twitter?

According to Musk’s tweets, free speech is the core of democracy. And Twitter is no less than a “digital town square”, where critical matters on tech, politics, governance, ethics, and so on, are discussed worldwide. Thus, Musk wants to evade censorship on the platform.

Musk’s comments created havoc, and many are afraid of Twitter becoming a “hate speech platform”. However, later Musk clarified that by free speech, he meant what is equivalent to law. Additionally, he added that he is against any censorship beyond the law.

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Is “free speech” is a sustainable idea for social media platforms?

The recent events have fuelled debates across social media platforms regarding “free speech”. Free speech supports individuals to convey their opinions without the fear of censorship, retaliation, or any legal sanction.

However, many are sceptical about Musk’s move because they fear the idea of “free speech” on Twitter can take the shape of “hate speech”. There is a thin line between the two. Hate speech means when someone conveys offensive speech against an individual or a group, especially on race, religion, and gender.

The primary issue is that “hate speech” per se is not an identified crime in several nations. Additionally, equating something to hate speech is also a somewhat subjective matter. Thus, complete “free speech” on social media platforms is a sensitive topic.

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How does the future of Twitter look?

Elon Musk has said he wants to enhance Twitter by easing censorship restrictions and inculcating new algorithms for the better functioning of Twitter. His primary focus would be identifying spam accounts and increasing authenticity on the platform. Additionally, new features will be added to make the algorithm an open source to increase the trust among Twitter users. Musk might also work towards increasing the word length for posting and add the feature of editing after publishing the posts.

Twitter has always been a controversial platform. In the past, several people have been banned from Twitter, such as Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and David Duke, and the list goes on. Thus, now it is to be seen whether these people would be back on the platform and how the saga of new Twitter battles under free speech guidelines would play out.

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