It’s not often you watch a billionaire get humiliated in public, much less on a daily basis. But that’s what keeps happening to Elon Musk, the world’s (for now) richest man and the new owner of Twitter. After being forced to close on a deal he almost certainly didn’t want, Musk is now in the process of turning his $44-billion investment into the biggest albatross in business history, one that he keeps making bigger every time he opens his digital mouth. Free speech, as Musk seems determined to demonstrate, can be very expensive.

After describing himself as a “free speech absolutist” and declaring “comedy is now legal” on his platform, Musk decided to kick a bunch of people off that platform — including comedian Kathy Griffin — for supposedly violating Twitter’s rules around impersonating others. Said people, who also include comedians Sarah Silverman and Valerie Bertinelli, had changed their usernames in order to make a point about the flaws in Musk’s new policy on identity verification, but Musk wasn’t laughing.

As the BBC reported, “A number of accounts that changed their name to Elon Musk and mocked the billionaire have already been suspended or placed behind a warning sign.” That new policy even tripped up Daniel Radcliffe, whose profile had been changed to look like “Weird Al” Yankovic in order to promote his upcoming biopic of the musician. So much for comedy being legal again.

But while it’s amusing to watch Musk repeatedly step on his own digital rakes, his inconsistent application of free speech principles is a deadly serious problem. He has already threatened advertisers, who have been fleeing the site since his takeover, with a “thermonuclear name & shame” if they continue to leave. Nobody is obligated to advertise on his platform, of course, but their free speech rights don’t seem to matter very much to Musk.

Neither does the role that journalists play in contributing to a healthy public discourse. If anything, he sees the outsized influence of journalists on Twitter as a flaw — one that helps explain his decision to charge users $8 a month for the much ballyhooed blue check. “Widespread verification will democratize journalism & empower the voice of the people,” Musk tweeted. This was music to the ears of Rebel Media founder Ezra Levant, who tweeted: “The democratization of journalism outrages the elites because it takes away their monopoly. That blue checkmark was their ‘proof’ that they're better than you.”

I’ve yet to encounter a journalist who actually feels this way, much less one who will pay Musk’s $8-per-month toll in order to keep their checkmark. But those checkmarks serve as a useful (if incomplete) bulwark against bad-faith actors, and by diluting their value, Musk will open the door wide for anyone who wants to use his platform to spread and profit from misinformation. Ironically, as tech reporter Casey Newton noted, the stated plan to charge users $8 per month for verified status and reduce the ads they see by half might actually cost Twitter money.

It’s the cost to democracy and civil society that should really worry people, though. As Glenn Gerstell, a national security expert and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told NatSec Daily, “I’m sure that the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin (a Russian oligarch who admitted to interfering in U.S. elections on Monday and vowed to continue doing so) are delighted to know that for just $7.99 a month, you can sow discord and set Americans against each other.”

On some level, Musk understands that turning his platform into an informational free-for-all would be bad for business. As he said, “Twitter needs to become by far the most accurate source of information about the world. That’s our mission.” But for some reason, that mission includes an operating assumption that journalists are an enemy rather than an ally. As he tweeted at Kyle Grantham, a former journalist and current digital media manager with New Castle County in Delaware, “You represent the problem: journalists who think they are the only source of legitimate information. That’s the big lie.”

This isn’t Musk’s first foray into Trumpist thinking about the mainstream media. As he said back in 2018, “The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them.” He even traded in Trump’s favourite insult for the media after he was called out for sharing a link to the Santa Monica Observer, a site known for publishing false news. “This is fake,” he wrote. “I did *not* tweet out a link to The New York Times!”

Musk’s digital fanboys might find that funny, but it’s no laughing matter for anyone who cares about the rise of disinformation and its impact on democracy. As the CEO of Tesla and a high-profile Twitter user, Musk’s hostility towards the media is just one of his many quirks. But as the owner and CEO of a company that serves as the de-facto digital commons for billions of people around the world, it presents a very real threat — one that seems to grow bigger with each passing day.

Opinion: It’s not often you watch a billionaire get humiliated in public, much less on a daily basis. But that’s what keeps happening to Elon Musk, writes columnist @maxfawcett for @NatObserver.

There’s a decent chance Musk will simply get bored with Twitter before he’s able to fully break it. There’s also the possibility he’ll learn from his early mistakes and put some actual adults in charge rather than relying on the sycophants that have been helping him steer it into the ditch so far. If he can actually turn Twitter into that “most accurate source of information about the world,” that might be an even bigger accomplishment than making electric vehicles into objects of desire. But given his recent behaviour, his long-standing antipathy towards the media and his apparent belief that journalism is just about having an opinion and an internet connection rather than a long-term relationship with the truth, I wouldn’t bet too heavily on that happening.

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Unfortunately, I don't think Elon Musk is making mistakes. I think his intention is to *destroy* Twitter. He is driving it into the ground, and eventually it will be a cesspool like Facebook where the likes of Ezra Levant are considered legitimate media.

Musk used his large microphone to tell people to vote for Herschel Walker, Greg Abbott, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Boebert, Kari Lake, and many other truly horrible people.
My response to this was to move to ContactSocial. My handle there is @[email protected]

The problem with the conspiracy-theory right wing that Musk seems to be channeling is not that they doubt the mainstream media. It's that they're so boneheaded about how and why they doubt the mainstream media. Whenever they ascribe villainous behaviour to someone, they never seem to ask basic questions like "What's their motivation?" and "What do they gain that they couldn't get easier some other way?" They end up with these caricatures that remind me of Doctor Evil saying "Why make 'billions' when you could make 'millions'?"

I mean, part of the reason the loony right started doubting the mainstream media in the first place is that it has some systematic biases that have often hit them where they lived. The mainstream media does not like offending its big advertisers; its big advertisers are big corporations with a presence on Wall Street. The mainstream media is owned, headquartered and mostly staffed from a few large cosmopolitan cities; it tends to discount the interests, concerns and viewpoint in general of people everywhere else, so the less your home looks like New York, Toronto or Los Angeles, the less what they care about is going to resonate with you. The mainstream media depends for political news on access to the government, so it tends to repeat central government narratives--and so for instance you start seeing the mainstream media call certain Latin American countries "dictatorships" even if they are actually democracies whose electoral systems have more integrity than the American one, simply because US government spokespeople call them that (which in turn is because they seek political and commercial independence from United States dominance, which is always a no-no). These factors led the mainstream media to do things like talk as if free trade was basically a good thing even as masses of people were losing their jobs. Free trade was good, at the time anyway, for the wealthy class mainstream media owners and the owners of their advertisers belong to, so it was good as far as that media was concerned, no matter what was happening to the little people in what they started casually calling the "rust belt".

So there are real concerns, and you have to look at the STRUCTURE of the media and the interests of its ownership in order to figure what distortions you should be expecting. Some things they'll tell the truth about, some things they'll lie about, some things they will frame in ways that distort the situation, and it's fairly predictable which things are which. But the right wing conspiracy theorists just go from "Mainstream media does not seem to care about me" to "Mainstream media are kitten eaters from Mars who never tell the truth because they want to steal my precious bodily fluids". And then they fall victim to an echo chamber . . . sponsored largely by some of those very same mainstream media advertisers, such as oil companies, who are happy to convince them that global warming is a mainstream media hoax when in real life the mainstream media did their best not to talk about it for ages.

"When the sage points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger."

Imagine making a Space X rocket to return to earth since 2015 without an obsession for truth. No one else can do that.
You can’t do that with astrology.

The real Elon Musk is an engineer, not an investor like Warren Buffet or Bill Gate who will invest in anything as long as it makes money.
Elon Musk money goes into his mission of « accelerating the transition to a sustainable future for humanity » which is good for everyone even haters like you.

Obviously for a hater, the lies that the ‘Hatestream Media’ are peddling fill the gap very nicely into your narrative to arrive at predetermined conclusion to confirm a clickbait title.

The Musk you are talking about is probably one of those goofy imitations of Elon Musk, like the one about the cryptocurrency that the haters at CBS has peddled. Video is gone now.

Do yourself a favour, stop listening or even worse, believing ‘Hatestream medias,’ you are losing credibility and a disgrace to the journalism deontology.

Here listen to the real Elon Musk, the one that cares about humanity:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7wUNMyK3Gs

It is fairly common for people who know a good deal about some areas of high technology to assume that since this stuff is hard and they understand it, they must understand everything--that all other areas of inquiry, particularly "soft" fields such as say political economy or sociology, must be far simpler than what they do and so they should be able to understand it without study.
They are wrong, and their mistaken belief leads them to say many stupid things and, particularly in the computing field, to suggest and even attempt "fixes" to various problems which are pointless or counterproductive.
Elon Musk seems to be one of those people. He has expertise in the technology around electric cars, rocketry and manufacturing. And you know, I'm really quite glad he is making electric cars; I don't think it can be denied that electric vehicles are further ahead technologically and have more sales penetration than they would without him. (The space stuff is cool but isn't actually going to save anyone from anything)

But, he also thinks that expertise means he understands politics and the social ramifications of something like Twitter. He is wrong. That leads him to confidently say stupid stuff outside his actual area of expertise.

I know that a lot of people peddle a lot of stupid things about him like this clickbait big title, this is well known, but I still have to hear things that are stupid that E.M. would say.

Whatever thing he said that may appear to not have made sense, he is the first one to admit it. He is brutally honest and transparent, because he has an obsession for truth and believe that the sun is the best disinfectant.

But if you want to participate in a positive discussion or shed light on Elon Musk, you have to be specific otherwise you just sound like someone who wants to destroy a reputation, a company and shedding ignorance.
Remember he has over 100 million followers, we can see through mud slingers, that do not contribute anything good to society, very quickly.

Twitter will become a better platform once he has finished improving it. The money he got by selling some Tesla stocks, first of all, it is his own money and it is his own business to do what he wants with it, but most important it is to improve Twitter. Already there will be more innovation companies that will advertise on Twitter. There is already less bots, scams and false accounts.

He is not against people that have their own opinion, but mud-slinging and epithets will have a hard time with Twitter v2.

His sense of humour will prevail; politics is war and the first victim of war is the truth.

Obviously, you don’t know Elon Musk because his area of expertise is wider than anyone I know.
He is not perfect, he is just less wrong than other people.

Here is another interview with the real Elon Musk:
Full New Elon Musk Interview at ONS 2022 Norway with Timestamps

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL4rCFboo7o