Why Elon Musk’s Twitter offer is so polarizing.
The tweet served as an acknowledgment of a reality that was starkly evident in the public reaction to Musk’s offer to buy Twitter, an effort he framed as a crusade for “free speech.” “. The American political right is dazed by this prospect, while the left is somewhere between apprehension and panic.
Liberals sounded the alarm, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) anticipating a “explosion of hate crimes“and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Calling the Agreement”dangerous for our democracy.” Meanwhile, Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) called him “the biggest development in free speech in decadesand far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.) gloated.
Some conundrums of American politics can best be understood by disconnecting and spending time in the country’s diverse and often heterodox communities. But it’s not one of them. The best way to understand why the prospect of the world’s richest man taking over Twitter has proven so polarizing is to delve into the area where Musk himself seems to spend so much of his time these days. -this: Twitter.
Tucker Carlson and conservatives applaud Musk purchase on Twitter: ‘We’re back’
The day Twitter’s board accepted Musk’s $44 billion offer, the popular liberal Twitter accounts have lost hundreds of thousands of followers, suggesting left-leaning users were deactivating their accounts in protest. Conservative accounts have gained followers, according to analysis by social media analytics firm Social Blade and tech site The Verge.
Musk hasn’t always been so aligned with the right. He claimed on Twitter on Thursday that he “strongly backed Obama for presidentbefore the Democratic Party was “hijacked by extremists.” He described himself in 2014 as “half Democrat, half Republican”. He clarified in 2018 that he was “registered independent” and “politically moderate.” When pressed on his relationship with the Republican governor of Texas last year, Musk said he “prefer to stay out of politics.”
Even his business interests initially seemed more in tune with the left. He cited climate change as the motivation for his automaker, Tesla, which sparked an electric vehicle revolution and capitalized on Democrat-endorsed green energy subsidies. In 2017, he quit President Trump’s trade advisory councils to protest Trump’s withdrawal from the United States from the Paris climate accords.
Yet he’s also a fierce, hugely successful capitalist who disdains unions, political correctness, and government intervention — at least, when he’s not taking advantage of it. In recent years, his companies have come under fire for their labor practices, including allegations of a racist and misogynistic culture. In December, he officially moved Tesla’s headquarters from California to Texas.
When news of Musk’s involvement on Twitter first broke in early April, the partisan response appeared to be based at least in part on the idea that Musk could bring back Trump, which Twitter permanently banned after the attack on the Capitol. American. Although some reports suggest it’s possible, Musk hasn’t mentioned Trump publicly.
Rather, it’s what Musk has said about Twitter in recent weeks — and how and who he’s said it to — that fuels the rift.
What Elon Musk’s Bias Chart Is Wrong
It all started with Musk’s repeated insistence that his goal in buying Twitter was to make it a “free speech” platform. It may seem bipartisan: both left and right broadly support the First Amendment, which protects Americans from government censorship, and the concept of free speech in general. But in the context of Twitter, Musk’s statements suggest to many that what he really means is a platform more tolerant of misinformation, personal harassment, bullying and hate speech.
Avid users of online forums know from experience that this means women, people of color, gay men and transgender people will face mountains of vitriol. Because abusive or bigoted speech usually has social or professional consequences in the real world — and on social networks that practice content moderation — any site that touts impunity quickly becomes a magnet.
Although marginalized groups, who skew liberals, are more likely to suffer from Musk’s approach, conservatives stand to benefit from more relaxed content moderation.
A recent study by MIT and Yale of bipartisan politically engaged American Twitter users found that 36% of The Republican accounts studied had been suspended within six months of the 2020 election compared to 8% of the Democratic accounts. Conservatives often attribute this to political bias on Twitter’s part, but researchers found that this could be because Republicans were sharing far more misinformation on the platform.
As Musk’s bid for Twitter progressed, his tweets showed an increasingly enthusiastic embrace of right-wing expectations for a more laissez-faire regime — and an increasingly overt disdain for the left and the existing leaders of Twitter.
On several occasions in recent days, Musk has slammed or endorsed criticism from Twitter employees, including posting a meme who mocked political chief Vijaya Gadde for denying “Twitter’s leftist bias”. It has caused waves of vitriol among Musk’s more than 80 million followers, some of whom are racist and sexist. (Gadde is a South Asian woman.)
Elon Musk beefs up criticism of Twitter executives, sparking online attacks
Inside Twitter, it confirmed some employees’ fears that Musk, as the owner, would subject them to public scorn and harassment, rather than meet with them in private, as any worker might hope. a boss would. And it reminded many on the left of Trump’s habit of targeting less powerful individuals, implicitly turning them into targets for his most combative supporters.
Yet those on the right who see Twitter’s current policies as unfair, or even part of a liberal plot to suppress their voices, have interpreted Musk’s criticisms quite differently. To them, Musk was speaking truth to power by pointing out the misdeeds of Twitter’s behind-the-scenes “censors,” an approach that echoed Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” by rooting out corruption in government. Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire even suggested that Musk form a “truth and reconciliation commission” inside Twitter.
For those steeped in Twitter culture, it wasn’t just the substance of Musk’s tweets that stood out. It’s also who he chose to engage with.
Since being accepted, he has regularly posted approving responses to tweets from some of the hard-right’s most strident online voices, including blogger Mike Cernovich, YouTuber Steven Crowder and activist Tom Fitton. As Twitter users know, such responses from the man who may now be Twitter’s most influential user serve to amplify those accounts and their messages.
Musk has extended no such favor to comparable voices from the far left. In fact, he tweeted on Friday: “The far left hates everyone, including themselves! Shortly after, he added, “But I’m not a fan of the far right either. Let’s have less hate and more love.
While it’s true that Musk isn’t a fan of the far-right, gloating over his endorsement is a weird way to show it. And those who have followed his tweets over the past few weeks aren’t buying it.