When I was asked to write about the $44 billion buy twitter by Elon Musk, the South African-born CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and the richest person on the planet, was divided. I have written about Musk on several occasions in the past, like when Time magazine selected him as its “2021 Person of the Year” even while acknowledging his track record, which includes numerous allegations of egregiously sexist and racist conditions in his US factories, as well as violations of local pandemic regulations to keep workers safe. workers working and threats on Twitter. against employees who want to unionize.
Weather meditated that “the vast expanse of human misery may seem like an afterthought to a man with his eyes on Mars,” as if apathy for the human condition is somehow a romantic, Person of the Year-type attribute. Meanwhile, the earthly misery has only been exacerbated by the fact that we now have to hear about Elon Musk day in and day out, which is why he was initially hesitant to contribute to the fuss.
As a professor at Columbia University Liza Stonefeather He commented on Facebook after the Twitter deal: “People keep blabbering about some uninteresting person, who bought an uninteresting social media platform, and all that person wants is this kind of attention.”
She continued: “It’s very empowering, almost like the world doesn’t learn anything from Trump!”
That said, I have a few more things to say.
Let’s start with the concept of “free speech,” which Musk has relentlessly invoked to justify his latest conquest: “Free speech is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital public square where vital issues are debated.” for the future of humanity. .”
Forget it live tweeting bowel movements, one of Musk’s favorite pastimes, would seem less than vital to civilization, or to anyone who bribe a college boy $5,000 deleting a Twitter account cannot really identify himself as a defender of free speech. The account in question is @ElonJet, where college freshman Jack Sweeney tracks Musk’s private jet using publicly available data; when Sweeney refused the bribe, Musk blocked him, the same mature response that has been applied to uncountable Twitter users Musk has deemed that they do not deserve the same right to free speech that the cosmos has endowed Musk with.
In addition to blocking, Musk’s Twitter repertoire also maniacally includes whipping politicians and others, often in completely irrelevant and sexually inappropriate ways, for doing things like suggesting that billionaires should pay income taxes. And with Musk now poised to become the god of Twitter, the “free speech for me but not for you” policy will presumably only soar to new cosmic heights. It is already widely alleged that his lewd tweets have directly spurred “rampant sexual harassment” at Tesla facilities.
Despite his modus operandi, Musk tweeted on April 25: “I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter, because that’s what free speech means.” This sent Musk’s fan club into a dizzy spell of adulation, with Florida’s Republican congressional candidate Lavern Spicer tweeting in response: “An African-American owner of the world’s largest social media company. This is historic.” He went even further on Facebook: “Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is the 21st century version of Lincoln freeing the slaves.”
It’s historic, in fact, for a white billionaire from the country who invented apartheid to achieve the label “African American.” On the other hand, anything is possible in the so-called “land of the free,” where “democracy” means that a single person has $44 billion to buy a social media platform while many people have no food or a place to hang out. to sleep.
The takeover of Twitter was also celebrated internationally by figures like El Salvador’s chief megalomaniac, Nayib Bukele, who like Trump prefers to rule through social media, and who produced several congratulatory tweets with festive emojis. Bukele went on to tweet a Reuters article about new Twitter “hate speech concerns” raised by human rights groups, adding the following encouraging comment in English: “Hahaha, go Elon!”
It is the same Bukele, of course, who is currently presiding over an intern”state of emergency” that has served as a pretext for the indefinite suspension of human rights, civil liberties and all that good stuff. An additional law spontaneously enacted in early April threatens “anyone who shares information about gangs” with up to 15 years in prison, as The New York Times points out, a measure that effectively criminalizes discussion of the Salvadoran reality. This is about freedom of expression.
But back to Musk’s vision of “freedom of speech” which ultimately isn’t free, and I don’t just mean the $44 billion price tag. He speaks of the ideal “functional democracy” in which Twitter serves as the “digital town square,” and yet Muskian’s vision of democracy is one in which he and he alone is in charge of the universe, since whether the humble masses realize it or not. his great fortune in having acquired such an overlord.
In the end, Musk is not an aberration from the grotesque course of capitalism in the US, where elite tyranny and widespread “human misery,” to appropriate the words of Time magazine, are marketed as a democracy in functioning. And while Musk has pledged to “make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features… and authenticating all humans,” none of this is very human at all.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.