Elon Musk is buying Twitter, and some people aren’t happy about it. The sale may now take longer than anticipated because Musk announced he’s putting the purchase “temporarily on hold” until the company can verify how many spam/fake accounts are on its platform.
“He sees something impossible and he makes it happen. Building the most sought after electric car, blasting off into outer space and now somehow, making twitter even worse,” “Late Late Show” host James Corden joked.
“You could secretly ban one party’s candidate or all of its candidates, all of its nominees. Or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not find out about it until after the election,” said Ari Melber, host of “The Beat” on MSNBC.
However, Twitter already stands accused of doing exactly that. It’s one of the reasons Musk expressed his desire to buy the platform.
“For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally,” Musk tweeted.
Musk has repeatedly said he wants to “unlock” Twitter’s potential.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in a statement after Twitter’s board agreed to his purchase.
Here are three ways Twitter has already fallen short.
The mission statement
Twitter states that it strives to be a “safe space to talk” and have a “positive impact on society”. It also attempts to minimize the distribution of misleading information. Yet it has no problem spreading the self-serving messages of dictators who spread violence and misinformation in the real world.
Despite an ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladmir Putin has an official account. Tweets include updates about his meetings, like a Mar. 9 sit down in his office with the Russian commissioner for children’s rights. That meeting took place the same day Russia bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, killing three people.
Iran’s supreme leader is also on Twitter even though his country is on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Twitter has failed to stop tweets about violence or inciting violence from trending.
“Hang Mike Pence” trended in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, during which protestors walked through the halls of the Capitol screaming “hang Mike Pence”. The former vice president was evacuated from the House chamber and took shelter in an undisclosed location.
Twitter eventually stopped the phrase and variations of it from trending. A spokesperson said, “We want trends to promote healthy discussions on Twitter.”
On Oct. 14, 2020, less than a month before the presidential election, The New York Post exclusively reported that Hunter Biden introduced Joe Biden to a board member of Burisma when he was serving as vice president. Burisma is the Ukrainian energy company that reportedly paid Hunter $50,000 a month to sit on its board.
That contradicted Joe Biden’s denials in which he said he knew nothing about his son’s international business dealings. Twitter took the tweet down and suspended the Post’s account, but the story was true.
Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey said it was a “total mistake” to take the story down and that it was a misunderstanding of their “hacked materials policy”.