Turning inner space into outer space

April 15, 2022

Why Twitter fears Elon Musk's version of free speech

The caretaker at an apartment building in Medicine Hat, Alberta, imparted wisdom to me one day that applies to many things in life.

I was kept awake at night by a neighbour playing loud music. Ironically, and weirdly, the song was Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel.

I complained to the caretaker and he took care of it — by kicking the guy out. This seemed harsh for a minor offence but he had an explanation.

If you let the bad ones stay, the good ones will leave, and eventually you'll be stuck with nothing but bad ones.

I've seen the truth of this in online forums over and over again. What thoughtful, intelligent person would want to express an opinion knowing that they will be shouted down by some anonymous schnook?

Very few would. This is why Twitter is often dominated by obnoxious loud mouths you would never allow in your home.

Twitter tries to keep things down to a dull roar by banning the worst offenders. If they don't, Twitter will turn into a cesspool of lies and hatred. No advertiser would want to be associated with it.

Now Elon Musk wants to take full ownership because he says he's concerned about free speech. It's bizarre that anyone would see Twitter as an important forum for free speech. It's more like a forum for snarky remarks and snide asides that contribute nothing to the kind of consensus needed for a healthy democracy.

But let's say he's on to something: Twitter needs a wider range of voices — no holds barred! What would that Twitter look like?

You want to spread misinformation? Come on in — it will all get sorted out in the big mix of free speech.

The wise caretaker in Medicine Hat would be appalled by this vision. Twitter would soon be nothing but toxic trolls arguing with each other while the rest of us move on. The only advertisers left would be scammers looking for suckers.

It's no wonder the Twitter board is mounting a defence against Musk's takeover bid. He would put them out of business.