Free Speech

Elon Musk's Twitter Stake Is Promising, but Not a Permanent Fix for Free Speech

Protections for open communication require more than the commitment of a single person.

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As social media has devolved from a free speech zone to a censorious minefield (my take) or a cesspool of misinformation from which people should be protected (according to people who are wrong) or just a shitty-algorithm-driven mess (probably true), the standard response to critics has been: build an alternative! A fair number of alternatives now exist, some more successful than others. But now tech billionaire Elon Musk puts forward a new approach: buy a stake in an existing platform and champion a culture of free speech. This may well be a boon for open discourse in the short term, but a permanent cure for intolerance requires more.

"Elon Musk took a 9.2% stake in Twitter Inc. to become the platform's biggest shareholder, a week after hinting he might shake up the social media industry," Bloomberg News reported on Monday. Musk also gained a seat on the company's board of directors.

The "shake up" refers to hints Musk dropped about starting a new social media platform that would use open-source algorithms and have a stronger dedication to free speech than much-criticized mainstream platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and, especially, Twitter. Tellingly, though, Musk not only became Twitter's largest shareholder, but before the Schedule13G disclosing the acquisition was revealed, he asked Twitter users whether they thought "Twitter rigorously adheres" to free speech. About 70 percent of self-selected respondents said "no."

Among those endorsing Musk's take on Twitter's need for change is, apparently, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who retweeted a related poll about the importance of basing the social media platform on open-source algorithms. He stepped down as Twitter's CEO last year and will leave the company's board next month. Dorsey took flack during his tenure as CEO, but there were signs that he was a free speech advocate navigating conflicting demands from government, politicized staff, and mutually loathing factions in a divided society.

"The pressure comes from both above and below. You've got the United States Senate basically saying: 'Nice little social network you got there. Real shame for anything to happen to it,'" tech entrepreneur David Stack told Bari Weiss last week. "From below, you've got the employees and the tweet mobs and basically forming these boycotts and subjecting the management of the company to pressure."

Dorsey criticized his own company's suppression of the since-verified Hunter Biden laptop story, long resisted his own employees' calls to ban former President Donald Trump from the platform, and told Congress that neither tech companies nor government should be "arbiters of truth." His departure was not a good sign for a service that once touted itself as "the free speech wing of the free speech party."

"Anyone who harbors concerns that social media have already grown too intolerant of dissenting opinions—too inclined to silence viewpoints that depart from liberal orthodoxy—should be worried about Dorsey leaving," Reason's Robby Soave wrote at the time.

Dorsey now regrets the centralization of the internet and champions Bluesky, a project intended to restore the ability for "people to freely interact and create content, without a single intermediary." Platforms built on such a decentralized approach would lack kill switches or the ability to turn public panics into policy; users would exercise control over their own experiences.

But one problem that alternative platforms have faced aside from public pressure and commercial shunning is attracting users. While some half-assed attempts (cough Parler cough) at building new social media platforms have made the existential mistake of relying on services provided by companies hostile to their missions, it is possible to build an independent platform that's relatively self-contained.

"Over the past four years we have been banned from multiple cloud hosting providers and were told that if we didn't like it we should 'build our own,'" Gab, a Twitter competitor favored by the nationalist right announced in 2020. "So, that's exactly what we did."

Since then, Gab has expanded into video and now is working on an advertising service and payment systems. But, while successful, it caters to a niche community that shares its very particular worldview. That, I'm happy to say, is not all of us.

For many people hoping for a renewed "free speech wing" commitment at a larger platform shared by people of multiple points of view, Musk's large stake in Twitter and his presence on its board comes as a promising sign. A self-proclaimed "free-speech absolutist" and critic of politicized environmental, social, and governance standards for investing and business management, Musk is already sending a message to the tech industry, to Twitter staffers, and to the censorious multitude, whatever his intentions.

"Will Musk now agitate for Twitter to alter its policy on moderating content in the name of freer speech?" The New York Times speculated on Monday. "Will he push for Twitter to open up its algorithm, which the company's co-founder and former C.E.O. Jack Dorsey appeared to support last week? (Musk and Dorsey are friendly.)"

But the problem with any movement based around one person is that the whole movement is only as good as that person and shares his or her flaws and vulnerabilities. Musk is already at war with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which isn't shy about weaponizing its power against opponents. His Twitter move could draw further regulatory attention and potentially hobble his efforts. Musk also faces accusations of retaliation against critics within his company and in the outside world. Whatever the truth of those claims, it's easy to see that the clout he wields at Twitter might just as easily be wielded against free speech as in its favor.

For now, Elon Musk's acquisition of a large stake in Twitter and a board seat allowing him to influence the social media company's policies is a welcome temporary victory for free speech advocates. If nothing else, it's a reminder to the self-righteous set that their dominance isn't inevitable and that calls for tolerance of dissent are, once again, coming from inside their own institutions.

But the long-term solution for protecting free speech can't lie in the hands of one person. We need alternatives that cater to different audiences and aren't reliant on the good will of their critics. We should encourage decentralization that lets people control their own experience and eliminates the ability of any government or pressure group to muzzle those deemed unworthy. And, most importantly, we have to encourage a culture of free speech that values protections for dissent without regard for our agreement or disagreement with other people's views.

NEXT: Brickbat: Bad Call

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  1. I know! Let's tear down Section 230 and replace it with a NEW, BETTER set of laws from Government Almighty, which will pussy-grab my enemies, and reward me and my friends! What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Good idea. Special government-almighty protections and regulations for just one class of companies are always antilibertarian.

      No rules, right?

      1. Section 230 …
        https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200531/23325444617/hello-youve-been-referred-here-because-youre-wrong-about-section-230-communications-decency-act.shtml

        Read the link if You are capable, Perfect One, and then explain to us how Section 230 (as is written) specially favors anyone over anyone else. Other than Marxist-style bullshit of YOUR kind; "People who have earned their property are favored over those who lust after stealing the properties of others".

        Keep your filthy mitts off of MY web site, dammit!!!

        1. You do love posting your lefty extremist pro-censorship propaganda, don't you.
          Your guy in the link dances in circles to misrepresent definitions:

          If you said “Once a company like that starts moderating content, it’s no longer a platform, but a publisher”
          I regret to inform you that you are wrong. I know that you’ve likely heard this from someone else — perhaps even someone respected — but it’s just not true. The law says no such thing."

          That's his whole fucking argument. Not what the actual definition of a publisher is, but whether or not the American government almighty has made a law defining it as such.

          And you're agreeing our definitions rest on whether or not your government almighty created a law that defines exactly what a publisher is. How very antilibertarian of you Sqrlsy.

          The fact is, if a company is editing content, it’s a publisher. And keep your filthy mitts off of MY speech, dammit!!!

          1. You've not mentioned how Section 230 "specially favors" anyone, other than some blather about "publishers". Do YOU want to be punished for what ***I*** have written? Maybe that's what it will take for you to learn a damned thing about "justice"?

            Hey EvilBahnFuhrer… No matter HOW many times you tell your “Big Lie”, it is NOT true! You’re part of the mob, aren’t you, gangster? For a small fee, you tell small businesses that you will “protect” them… From you and your mob! Refute the below, ye greedy authoritarian who wants to shit all over the concept of private property!

            Look, I’ll make it pretty simple for simpletons. A prime argument of enemies of Section 230 is, since the government does such a HUGE favor for owners of web sites, by PROTECTING web site owners from being sued (in the courts of Government Almighty) as a “publisher”, then this is an unfair treatment of web site owners! Who SHOULD (lacking “unfair” section 230 provisions) be able to get SUED for the writings of OTHER PEOPLE! And punished by Government Almighty, for disobeying any and all decrees from Government Almighty’s courts, after getting sued!

            In a nutshell: Government Almighty should be able to boss around your uses of your web site, because, after all, Government Almighty is “protecting” you… From Government Almighty!!!

            Wow, just THINK of what we could do with this logic! Government Almighty is “protecting” you from getting sued in matters concerning who you chose to date or marry… In matters concerning what line of work you chose… What you eat and drink… What you read… What you think… Therefore, Government Almighty should be able to boss you around on ALL of these matters, and more! The only limits are the imaginations and power-lusts of politicians!

            1. Home income solution to enable everyone to work online and receive weekly payments to bank acc. Earn over $500 every day and get payouts every week straight to account bank. (ui40) My last month of income was $30,390 and all I do is work up to 4 hours a day on my computer. Easy work and steady income are great with this job.
              .
              More information. >> https://brilliantfuture01.blogspot.com/

            2. You always end of up ranting and calling names. It's hilarious.

              1. EvilBahnFuhrer can't refute what I say, so She (AKA Perfect One) walks away with nothing but a snit-fit! What a surprise!

                1. Yeah, just like that.

                  1. So then are you PROUD of Your ignorance and stupidity, Perfectly Empty-Headed Marxist One?

  2. For now, Elon Musk's acquisition of a large stake in Twitter and a board seat allowing him to influence the social media company's policies is a welcome temporary victory for free speech advocates.

    My ass. When policies actually change, and bans are lifted, come back and say something worthwhile, Tuccille. Otherwise, get stuffed. You were cheering Twitter bans the whole time.

    1. Nice looking ladies waitig for you at Shemales Falkensee

      1. What part of XY didn’t you get?

        1. X, why?

          1. LOL, I see what you did there. Touche!

            1. When you change your handle to Commenter_XX we'll know something's up?

              1. Not anymore... :-/

  3. Free speech rights are subservient to property rights.

    Property rights are why individuals even have free speech rights in the first place. It is because individuals own their own minds, own their own thoughts, own their own consciences, own their own voices, own their own opinions, own their own abilities to make their opinions known. Without property rights, in particular the right of self-ownership, there would be no concept of free speech rights, nor any other natural rights.

    So, if Alice exercises her free speech rights to make an offensive comment on Bob's platform, then Bob has a choice: he may either permit Alice's offensive comment to remain, or he may decide to censor Alice's comment. Either way, however, represents an expression of Bob's property rights, not because Alice's free speech rights are somehow superior to Bob's property rights. They are not. Bob may very well choose to let offensive comments remain at his forum, out of a stated desire to "protect free speech", but what he is really doing is exercising property rights.

    Attempts to elevate free speech rights over property rights leads to a more authoritarian outcome, as that necessarily means the expropriation and/or nationalization of private property for 'public use', which undermines general protections for property rights broadly, even in areas far removed from free speech controversies.

    1. Agreed!

      However, first we have to perform Government-Almighty-knows-what kinds of stunts to get the permissions of authoritarians (cough MammaryBahnFuhrer cough JesseBahnFuhrer cough) who want to use Government Almighty to tell us all what we may and may not do with our web sites and who knows what-all other properties!

      1. Stfu sqtlsy, you lazy sack of shit,

        1. Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

          So I discussed your awesome talents with some dear personal friends on the Reason staff… Accordingly…

          Reason staff has asked me to convey the following message to you:

          Hi Fantastically Talented Author:

          Obviously, you are a silver-tongued orator, and you also know how to translate your spectacular talents to the written word! We at Reason have need for writers like you, who have near-magical persuasive powers, without having to write at great, tedious length, or resorting to boring facts and citations.

          At Reason, we pay above-market-band salaries to permanent staff, or above-market-band per-word-based fees to freelancers, at your choice. To both permanent staff, and to free-lancers, we provide excellent health, dental, and vision benefits. We also provide FREE unlimited access to nubile young groupies, although we do firmly stipulate that persuasion, not coercion, MUST be applied when taking advantage of said nubile young groupies.

          Please send your resume, and another sample of your writings, along with your salary or fee demands, to ReasonNeedsBrilliantlyPersuasiveWriters@Reason.com .

          Thank You! -Reason Staff

    2. In other words money talks.

      1. Property rights include the right for you to say silly things.

      2. Socialist State Worshippers like LoS simply detest private property rights. Prevents them from taking Other People's Stuff and telling them what to do.

    3. There is no tension here. Property Rights are prime, and freedom of expression is a virtue. There is nothing wrong with supporting Twitter's right to moderate content, and still shame a company that claims to be a public communication service for abandoning the freedom of expression it once explicitly endorsed.

      This attempt to force this into a box of conflicting rights is an attempt to dodge what is really at issue. Alice isn't at Bob's house mouthing off. Alice went on Bob's platform after he explicitly invited her and the rest of the public under the pretense that he was running a platform of free expression. That platform was considered a virtue for society, and Bob nevertheless abandoned it (as is his right) and is now being criticized for his duplicity.

      1. "This attempt to force this into a box of conflicting rights is an attempt to dodge what is really at issue."

        And FWIW, the reason this isn't a rights issue is that government isn't involved in THIS story. This is a private matter between a public company and an investor. The latter understands what really made Twitter strong and invaluable (during the colorado floods back in 2013 it was THE BEST source of news my family had on what was impacting us in our small town). The former lost site of that in the pursuit of social justice- like much of the corporate world.

      2. Alice went on Bob's platform after he explicitly invited her and the rest of the public under the pretense that he was running a platform of free expression. That platform was considered a virtue for society, and Bob nevertheless abandoned it (as is his right) and is now being criticized for his duplicity.

        So Bob isn't allowed to set rules of conduct and boot Alice for violating them?

        1. That’s not what he said at all. And you know that.

        2. What part of "as is his right" was confusing? Of course he is allowed.

          Anyone is free to create a site with whatever moderation rules they want. That doesn't change the fact that free expression is a virtue for society, and that a company purporting to support it (as is also their right) should be praised for going the extra step to provide a benefit to society. And it doesn't change the fact that a company CLAIMING to support freedom of expression while declining to meet that standard (as is their right) no longer deserves that praise, and perhaps should perhaps be criticized for claiming a virtue it didn't earn.

          I find Chemjeff's argument to be doubly ironic because of his stances on Vaccinations and other social goods. He has claimed that in Libertopia every person has a moral obligation to secure our freedoms through private action. He has said Libertopia would not work if we did not feel OBLIGATED to do these things. He has justified shaming and ostracizing others on the basis that if we didn't foster this MORAL OBLIGATION in others, Libertopia would not work.

          But here we have another social good- the free exchange of information- and Chemjeff suddenly doesn't see a role for society to play shaming companies for standing in the way of a social good[*]. One would think that his logic would lead him to believe that no Libertopia could exist if people weren't shaming and ostracizing companies that thwart social goods like free expression.

          [*] Note I am merely using his logic. The reason I think Twitter deserves criticism is that, as Tuccile has documented, they long claimed a mantle of free expression, and have abandoned it once it earned them followers. And I further praise Musk for his efforts, because he is using libertarian methods to try and provide a social good for society- just as I praise those who privately engage in charity or other social goods.

          1. Lying Jeffy is a hypocrite, yes.

          2. I find Chemjeff's argument to be doubly ironic because of his...

            Everything after that I see as an argument against him, so I tuned out.

            1. Yet felt the need to comment on it.

            2. Ideas!

            3. "Everything after that I see as an argument against him, so I tuned out."

              Yes I get the tribalism is strong in you. I still have hope for you, so let me be clear: I was arguing against Chemjeff's logic- logic he has used multiple times.

              https://reason.com/2022/02/20/first-world-problems/?comments=true#comment-9366619

              This is one of the many times Chemjeff has justified shaming and ostracism to foster a moral obligation for private action:

              "But that spirit of cooperation among individuals to tackle social problems does not arise out of nothingness. It has to be cultivated and nurtured among the public. "

              That is not criticizing Chemjeff, it is criticizing his logic. If vaccination or charity (his examples) are public virtues that are properly encouraged by shaming and ostracism, then I would expect that freedom of expression ought to also be encouraged through ostracism and shaming. Do you disagree? Or is it easier to insist I am engaged in personal attacks rather than engage the argument?

              1. I see you saying he's wrong about abc because of what he said about xyz.

                1. That’s because you’re just as big of a hypocrite as he is.

                2. It looks like Overt has borrowed the Jesse-esque practice of constructing dossiers of people he doesn't like to use as weapons against them later on to provoke and inflame the discussion.

                  1. I muted Jesse because I was tired of prefacing every reply with "Great response to something I never said nor did." But he continued with the lies, so I just put him on mute.

                    I hope Overt isn't adopting the same tactics. That would be a shame since, unlike Jesse, he often has insightful things to say.

                    1. You mean those posts where I quoted your past words like overt just did jeff?

                    2. SHOW IS THE LIST!

                    3. Post the list, sarcasmic!

                  2. Lol. You two ignorant hypocrites, sarc and Jeff, demand evidence of your past sayings and then cry when provided.

                    Hilarious.

              2. “I still have hope for you”

                Well now you’re just being silly.

              3. "Yes I get the tribalism is strong in you."

                If that's the case then your tribe is the trolls who feel that qu quoque and ad hominem are logical arguments.

                1. "If that's the case then your tribe is the trolls"

                  Right...I am trolling. I responded to Chemjeff's statement with a criticism of the argument. I then responded to your rejoinder with clarification. Your only response to that was to claim personal attacks.

                  Who do you think you are fooling?

                  1. Himself.

            4. Don't mess with sarcs friends or you'll get the list.

          3. Seriously. It's like the garbage I see on the rare occasions I unmute the trolls. And that's why they're on mute in the first place. It's all you, you, you. In this case it's him, him, him.

            *yawn*

            1. Show us the list!

            2. Pathetic drunk cries when he's constantly proven wrong.

              1. He is more often proven a hypocrite.

            3. “I see…I unmute… they're on mute…. It's all you, you, you. In this case it's him, him, him.”

              Don’t forget they, they, they.

          4. But here we have another social good- the free exchange of information- and Chemjeff suddenly doesn't see a role for society to play shaming companies for standing in the way of a social good

            Present the quote where I wrote that.

            1. Dude, they don't have to because it is known. And if dispute the narrative about yourself, you're the liar.

              1. I would hope that Overt would have more intellectual integrity than the Jesses of the world (because let's be honest, it would be difficult to have less), and to actually back up his claims. But it looks like he is just going to stir up shit, so you may be right.

                1. Back when Obama was president, conservatives loved these comments because they could bash the Democrat and libertarians for the most part went along. Then when Trump came into office the libertarians continued to be critical from a libertarian point of view, so the conservatives concluded that we must be leftists. Now that there's a Democrat in the White House again, these people who hated us during the Trump years still hate us. So even when they agree with us they have to turn it into a personal slight.

                  1. If Trump "broke the left", then Obama "broke the right". Now both sides are broken, it's all just tribalism, and since neither one of us are in their tribes, we are hated by both sides. Oh well. That is the price of actually thinking for one's self and not going along with the tribal herd mentality.

                    1. You two leftists were always broken hypocrites lol.

                  2. Jeffy and sarcasmic ITT jerking each other off to fantasies of their imaginary libertarianism. Stupid lefties hypocrites (but I repeat myself).

                2. You two really hate being shown your hypocritical past. You think ignoring it forces others to also ignore it.

                  It is very strange, but a common trait of pathological liars.

                3. "But it looks like he is just going to stir up shit, so you may be right."

                  Except you know, I did provide evidence of your logic, and I am merely asking for you to either apply it equally, or to explain why your logic doesn't extend here. But please, tell everyone so much more about what I am thinking. I was gone a month or so, and upon returning, you really seem to have missed a step or two. *shrug*

                  Anyways, I'm off to snorkel. I'll be eager to see where you all are at when I return.

                  1. You're turning into JesseAz.

                    1. Realizing you and Jeff are hypocrites is turning into me? You make it pretty obvious to everyone.

                    2. Why?

                      If there is ever going to be a bridge between the left and right factions of libertarianism, this is going to be a key point of discussion: once the government is not enforcing social goods, how will those social goods be accomplished. Chemjeff, not I, has insisted that the only way a Libertopia can exist is if the citizens feel a moral OBLIGATION to solve those problems. That is, it is not good enough that people are free- if they don't feel obligated to solve social problems, Libertopia is a failure. Further, he has argued that a critical mechanism to get people to feel this obligation is to use shaming and ostracism.

                      I am not interested in one-ups on Chemjeff, so if you (and he) feel that is what I was doing, you are mistaken. A consistent school of thought needs to be hammered out on this fault line, and this is a good test case. That is all.

                    3. If there is ever going to be a bridge between the left and right factions of libertarianism, this is going to be a key point of discussion: once the government is not enforcing social goods, how will those social goods be accomplished.

                      I actually agree with you here. I just find it hilarious that my position is considered part of the "left faction of libertarianism". Not that long ago, it would have been considered squarely in the "right faction of libertarianism", and the "left faction" was along the lines of "well, maybe we do need a welfare state after all". Now it seems that the "right faction" has drifted so far to the right, that it doesn't even want to consider the reality of social problems at all.

                      Calls for "private charity" to solve all the world's social problems are great, but they won't work unless there are people willing to volunteer. And why would a person volunteer? What would motivate a person to do so? Hmm?

            2. "Present the quote where I wrote that."

              So, *do* you believe society should be shaming Twitter for not promoting free expression? Do you believe that in a Libertopia, private companies like Twitter would have a moral obligation to promote free expression by not being censorious?

              1. I will take your response as your tacit admission that you were mistaken in your representation of my viewpoint. Once you apologize for your false attribution I will be happy to continue with our discussion.

                1. The only apology I ever saw in all the time I've been on this forum was John to me. I miss that guy. Hard headed at times but unlike the current crop of conservatives he didn't employ fallacies as arguments.

                  1. The guy you called a Trump Cultist?

                2. "Once you apologize for your false attribution I will be happy to continue with our discussion."

                  I'm sorry that I assumed this was the point you would make.

                  So let's get on with it. So, *do* you believe society should be shaming Twitter for not promoting free expression? Do you believe that in a Libertopia, private companies like Twitter would have a moral obligation to promote free expression by not being censorious?

                  1. No no no no no. You wrote:

                    But here we have another social good- the free exchange of information- and Chemjeff suddenly doesn't see a role for society to play shaming companies for standing in the way of a social good[*]

                    That assumption - that I "suddenly do[es]n't see a role for society..." - is a baseless assumption not supported by anything that I wrote. So, let's try this apology instead:

                    "I apologize for making a baseless assumption about chemjeff's beliefs."

                    1. So he apologized, asked a simple question, and you still couldn’t answer it.

                      It’s almost like you’re inherently dishonest.

                    1. On the apology. The rest, I can't even break it down.

                    2. It’s not that complicated of a question.

                  2. And by the way. If you want to have a good-faith discussion, don't kick it off by immediately assuming that the person you are conversing with is guilty of hypocrisy or bad faith.

                    1. So THAT'S why I can't have a good-faith discussion with certain people. I created JesseAz! I'm Frankenstein! He's my monster!

            3. "I reserve the right to mock, judge, and shame those whom I believe are making poor choices. Don't you? Do you really want to make *every* choice morally equivalent to each other? The decision to drink and drive, vs. the decision to not drink and drive, those should be free from judgment and considered morally equivalent? In Libertopia, drinking and driving would be legal of course. So how are free citizens supposed to persuade others not to drink and drive? Logical arguments can work, but peer pressure and moral judgment can also work. I reserve the right to use any tool available to me - consistent with the NAP - to try to persuade people to make smarter choices. Yes that makes me a bit of a moral scold. In a libertarian order, we would ALL have to be moral scolds of one type or another. Because there is no coercive authority to impose its moral judgment on everyone."
              -chemjeff radical individualist
              February.21.2022 at 10:48 am

              1. OK chemjeff, there's the quote you were requesting. I guess you don't remember saying it? I get it, when you have no principles and only believe in tribalism, it's easy to lose track of your arguments.

                1. Yes I said it and I completely stand by it. What was your question again?

            4. "I reserve the right to mock, judge, and shame those whom I believe are making poor choices. Don't you? Do you really want to make *every* choice morally equivalent to each other? The decision to drink and drive, vs. the decision to not drink and drive, those should be free from judgment and considered morally equivalent? In Libertopia, drinking and driving would be legal of course. So how are free citizens supposed to persuade others not to drink and drive? Logical arguments can work, but peer pressure and moral judgment can also work. I reserve the right to use any tool available to me - consistent with the NAP - to try to persuade people to make smarter choices. Yes that makes me a bit of a moral scold. In a libertarian order, we would ALL have to be moral scolds of one type or another. Because there is no coercive authority to impose its moral judgment on everyone."
              -chemjeff radical individualist
              February.21.2022 at 10:48 am

              There's where you said it...was your handle "hacked" or something?

        3. So Bob is allowed to create a contract with Alice allowing her to speak and then arbitrarily change terms at his whim.

          He is pressured by government agents to change those terms and given taxpayers monies to offset losses after the contract was signed?

          1. He is allowed to work with government to garner special rights for his platform that others are not?

      3. “Alice went on Bob's platform after he explicitly invited her and the rest of the public under the pretense that he was running a platform of free expression.”

        This is the point that people like Jeff and sarc refuse to address. I would add that part of Bob’s invitation required Alice to give him her personal information, which Bob is then selling to make a profit, as the price of admission to his platform. When Bob arbitrarily kicks Alice off his platform, he’s still able to make money from her info.

        And sometimes, Bob doesn’t even kick Alice out, he mutes her without telling her, so she’s continuing to go to Bob’s and talking, while he continues to sell her info, without realizing she’s talking to the wall.

        1. And sometimes the CIA and the FBI visit Bob and let him know that he really needs to pay attention to what Nancy wants him to mute.

      4. This attempt to force this into a box of conflicting rights is an attempt to dodge what is really at issue.

        I'm not dodging anything. Don't poison a polite discussion.

        We agree:

        Property Rights are prime, and freedom of expression is a virtue.

        1. Then you weren't discussing anything. You were digressing needlessly. This article had nothing to do with private property rights and everything to do with freedom of expression. It was as if we were discussing the benefit of electric cars vs ICE and brought up trains.

          1. I was presenting an argument against the usual cries from those on both left and right nowadays that social media should be regulated and ultimately nationalized "for the public good" because they are "basically" a public utility. If you read more into what I wrote, because you wanted to stir up shit and provoke a confrontation, then that is on you, not me.

            1. And you continue to ignore the collusion w government because you agree w the narrative and restrictions they push.

            2. "I was presenting an argument against the usual cries from those on both left and right nowadays"

              So you admit you were trying to start an argument unrelated to the actual content of the article. You, not me, tried to argue about government censorship. You.

              And when I pointed out that your argument about Property Rights was not in tension with this article that was about Free Expression, you say that *I* am trying to stir shit up?

              This is the story you are going with?

              1. I was presenting an argument related to the article at hand, not exactly the one you were expecting, and it is not my fault if you interpreted my words in the context of something that wasn't there.

          2. Yeah, there's really no question when it comes to trains these days, they're all diesel / electric hybrids.

        2. You spent a dozen posts in your flirting with sarcasmic dodging just above.

      5. This is about as well said as it could be said. Well said. Say this often.

      6. Funny enough, between the two, only free speech is mentioned in the constitution.

        Twitter has never been anything but a business. And yes, free speech is implicated. As a business, Twitter has free speech rights, including the right to censor.

        1. A business started by the CIA.

          1. In a plot to destroy America?

    4. Fascist blood money talks too:

      "US right wing figures in step with Kremlin over Ukraine disinformation, experts say.

      False and conspiratorial narratives pushed by some American conservative politicians and media figures about Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine have bolstered and created synergies with the Kremlin’s legendary disinformation machine, experts on information manipulation say."

      1. Fuck off, Shrike. Go bang your blood-drenched war drums somewhere else.

      2. … experts on information manipulation say.

        You can count on those guys to tell the truth.

      3. So, then according to you, because Russia runs disinformation ops, talking about Ukrainian disinformation ops is a Russian disinformation ops?

        Because Ukrainians aren't also running disinfo ops? Like, just because the Russians are doing it doesn't mean the Ukrainians aren't.

        1. YOU MUST CHOOSE A SIDE!

    5. What if Alice is stronger than Bob?

      1. If Alice is stronger than Bob, Bon is smart enough to do what Alice wants.

        The strong Alice's don't get banned or muted - they get blue check marks.

    6. When large corporations work in conjunction with government they are agents of the state in some regard per settled law shit for brains. Peof Volokh has talked of this often.

      You are simply promoting corporate fascism jeff.

    7. A few questions for you:

      I do not own any telephone lines or cell towers; do the owners of those properties have the right to censor what I say on the telephone?

      If I rent an apartment and gather together a body of people committed to causes that my landlord hates, can my landlord prevent our gatherings? Prohibit our discussions? Afterall, the landlord owns the property.

      Next week, I will be traveling and will rent a car. Do I need to get Hertz's approval of my route? Passengers? Luggage? What I talk about? What books I might carry? I mean, they own the car.

      I will be interested in any response but I will provide a preliminary answers:
      1) Entirely NO !
      2) Almost entirely no as long as what the renter and guests do is legal.
      3) Almost entirely no, unless it involves risk to their property.

      Why then, does social media get to constrict the rights of their users to express their opinion? I hear people say "well, they are content providers, not common carriers?" I see that as a distinction without a difference; they offer themselves to they public as a means of transmitting ideas. Like a phone.

      Your assumption that property rights supercede personal rights is pretty thin.

      1. Okay, let's just start here for a moment:

        I do not own any telephone lines or cell towers; do the owners of those properties have the right to censor what I say on the telephone?

        My point here is that the thoughts in your head that you speak on the phone represent your property. You own yourself, and more importantly your conscience. Your right to speak your mind, on the phone or elsewhere, derives from your property rights over your own body and your own mind.

        Then, as to your specific question: It depends on whether we are discussing hypothetical Libertopia, or whether we are discussing the status quo.

        In the status quo, no, the phone company may not censor you, because the government has decreed it so. But it is not because you have a natural right to use a cellular tower for free speech. It is because of the government's rules.

        In Libertopia, then presumably everything would be privatized, and there would be no laws declaring phone companies as common carriers. So whether or not the phone company would be permitted to censor you or not would depend on the contract that you signed with them when you subscribed for their service. Presumably, if you place a high value on not being censored, you would choose a phone company from a wide range of competitors that served your needs and desires.

        It is a similar answer to your other two questions. Hope this helps.

  4. But the long-term solution for protecting free speech can't lie in the hands of one person. We need alternatives that cater to different audiences and aren't reliant on the good will of their critics.

    Maybe amending the constitution so that it reads something like, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." ?

    1. The long term solution is for all people to push back against the lie that securing freedom is solely a government responsibility. When you outsource such a key driver of free society, you are at risk of every thing being taken away. Only when the public understands the virtue of liberty will our liberty be safe.

      1. The bigger point is that government is not thr sole source of corruption. Anti market forces are also a source of corruption. These companies have violated contract norms, participated in buy and kills to stifle competition, have outright stolen IP from various inventors, worked with government to secure market positions, etc. This is a source of corruption as well.

        Transferring and hiding government abuse behind corporate walls is still corruption. This is one of the big faults of leftist libertarianism. They push the narrative of private companies while ignoring these actions when the actions work in their view of moral goodness.

  5. Seems to me there's a categorical difference between pressure to censor coming from Congress, and pressure to censor coming from your employees. No, not the 1st amendment, the fact that you theoretically have the power to fire employees.

    IOW, while Dorsey might be making the right noises now, I have to say that I doubt he was ever actually all that committed to free speech. Maybe he thought Twitter went a bit too far with its censorship, but he apparently was comfortable with censorship at some level. Or else his push-back would have started earlier and been more effective.

    People committed to free speech don't end up creating censorious corporate cultures.

    1. It's one of the issues with free speech. It inevitably means tolerating people who argue to get rid of it. The only way around it I see, is if you are a company were free speech matters, give your employees free classes on why it matters.

      Giving people who are already prone to wanting to provide free stitch the tools to argue their case and endorsement to do so, can go a long way to shaking a companies culture.

      1. In a related note, some lady at substack (forget her actual title) said they are hiring, but anyone who leaves Twitter because they’re triggered by Musk need not apply.

      2. I don't get it. If you have a group of employees who are opposed to your core mission, you show them the door, right?

        I mean, let's say you are running a barbecue joint, and for whatever reason your employee pool starts to include a bunch of Orthodox Jews or Muslims. And they start complaining about serving pork....

        Do you drop pork from the menu with a bunch of fanfare about how enlightened you are for dropping pork? Or do you tell them they can find somewhere else to wait tables?

        1. You tell the employees to suck it up, but you don't fire them unless they begin to do their job poorly or complain to customers while on the job.

        2. Becoming harder w all the DEI based restrictions being pushed to business.

          These are the same people forcing religious institutions to hire trans people.

      3. It is one thing to give such people the ability to tweet their dislike of others speech, but this is not firing employees actively censoring people they disagree with.

    2. "IOW, while Dorsey might be making the right noises now, I have to say that I doubt he was ever actually all that committed to free speech. "

      I actually believe Dorsey was (and is) very much committed to free speech. I have been to talks he gave, and I have no doubt he is committed to free expression.

      The problems are 2-fold. 1) It takes more than a CEO to run a company, and 2) we are all blind to our biases. While Dorsey is a free speech absolutist, he had to delegate control to his company. The censorious nature of Twitter began deep down in its operations arm, and as CEO this really didn't get on his radar at first. And when it was bubbling up, no doubt his leftist politics led to him turning a blind eye towards early censorious efforts.

      Flash forward to 2020 and all of twitter's employees have begun working remotely, free to go off the rails after reading CNN all day, and he truly realized he had lost control of the company. I am 90% certain that the reason he stepped down was that he tried forcing an ultimatum and lost.

      1. “While Dorsey is a free speech absolutist,… no doubt his leftist politics led to him turning a blind eye towards early censorious efforts.”

        Then he’s not an absolutist. Otherwise I think you’re right.

      2. Bullshit. Dorsey is a free speech absolutist for things he agrees with, beyond that he's shown himself to be perfectly fine with censoring the shit out of anyone else under any pretext.

      3. I actually believe Dorsey was (and is) very much committed to free speech. I have been to talks he gave, and I have no doubt he is committed to free expression.

        You and I have a different opinion of Dorsey. I believe Dorsey believes in a general fantasy of commitment to free speech, but when confronted by it has no such instinct. His near comic performance on the Rogan podcast was an indicator to me. He seems, in the end, to be nothing more than a typical Silicon Valley corporate hack who has a carefully curated, 'cool, regular guy, spiritual guru' look who engages in a a performative act of freedom of transparency.

        Perhaps these silicon valley types aren't as deep thinkers we're led to believe, but there are much better ways of being a free speech advocate and communicating and managing the limits of free speech on a corporate, private platform.

      4. Oh, you've been to talks he gave and you think he's committed.

        Pro tip: NEVER listen to what people say, pay attention to what they DO.

        Dorsey abdicated his leadership role in the company and let the cultists take over.

        1. +1,000,000

          Thread winner here!

  6. No mention of the edit button?

    Elon asked Twitter users if they want an edit button.

    If they get one can we have one too?

    1. No soup for you!

    2. Nope. Gotta own your drunk posting.

      1. Can you imagine how many hypocrital posts he and Jeff would delete or change..

        1. Do like youtube, 5 minute window.

          1. Or like Wikipedia and have the changelog accessible.

            "Posted at 09:15 -- Edited at 09:16" and have the word "Edited" be a link to a page that shows every state the tweet has had. Then it'd be real easy to tell who altered a Tweet to fix a spelling error, and who had altered one to change their meaning.

            Though the way people get around deletions now is screencaps, and they seem to work well enough.

    3. Because of a Twitter April fools tweet..

  7. Koch’s just mad that this South African is a better advocate for free speech than all his organizations.

    1. It is pretty wild that a leftist like Elon Musk is proving out to be more libertarian than the Reason staff.

      1. If you think "libertariansim" means nothing more than "opposition to the status quo", then I suppose so.

        Personally I think libertarianism should stand for something more substantive than just screaming "no no no" all the time.

        1. Agreed. You've often stated liberty can only be achieved once everyone agrees with your moral framework. That's why you're not a libertarian.

        2. Nobody said anything about “status quo” in this thread whatsoever Lying Jeffy, so why did you use quotes, let alone bring it up at all? It’s so unnecessarily dishonest that I can’t help but wonder if you just can’t help but lie.

          Or do you still not understand what quotation marks mean? I’m truly confused by your comment.

  8. His departure was not a good sign for a service that once touted itself as "the free speech wing of the free speech party."

    Yeah, right.
    And Google actually believed in "Do no harm" as it actively worked to destroy opposition thought.

    1. I believe it was "Don't be evil".

      If you have "Don't be evil" as a corporate motto.... And then you feel compelled to remove that.....

  9. Certainly, there is no permanent fix for free speech, just like any other human right, it has to be jealously guarded and defended. There also needs to be a robust cultural understanding of the importance and need for free speech as a general principle, and Twitter lately has been on the wrong side of the culture on that. Any influence to change Twitter's current hostility to an open exchange of ideas is welcome.

    1. “There also needs to be a robust cultural understanding of the importance and need for free speech as a general principle, and Twitter lately has been on the wrong side of the culture on that.”

      But muh private property rights!

      — Jeffsarc

  10. Although I agree with the sophomoric thesis, that one man is not enough to have a vibrant online culture centered around free speech, it’s shortsighted to think that Musk will be the only one. He’s simply the first to make a move in an exceptionally hostile environment. It’s literally been 2 days since the announcement. The movement back towards free speech isn’t over, it’s literally just started. Fretting that there is only “1 person” right now, particularly in the face of years of opposition from every center of power in the country from government to universities to Hollywood and woke corporations, is like worrying about only having a 3 yard completion in the first drive of a football game. There will be more. He’s just the first person brave and with enough social clout to do it. Others will follow.

    1. The stock jumping in price once people became aware of his purchase is a good sign. It's an indicator that investors don't think freedom of speech on a platform hurts its competiveness.

    2. ^ See my comment above about the Substack executive. See Joe Rohan. There’s a huge market for actual free speech platforms, and once enough people realize that it’s worth telling the wokesters to fuck off and ignore them, we’ll get more of it.

      1. Joe Rogan. Weird my phone insists Rogan should be Rohan.

        1. not weird - programmed

        2. Your phone thinks you should read more Tolkien

      2. As an added bonus, discussions on Substack are infinitely better than those on Twitter.

    3. Humans have never had more freedom to express themselves in history.

  11. Funny how an article about Musk 's stake became a story to rehabilitate the image of Dorsey. He was an ineffectual leader if he actually believed in free speech and more likely is just mouthing free speech platitudes for morons like Soave and TooSilly to regurgitate. He did nothing to push back while in a position to do something and is replicating that disdain for others with differing opinions in his new venture's policies.

    In short, fuck Dorsey and the leftist propagandists trying to claim he was some champion of free speech.

    1. Actions always speak louder than words.

    2. Where exactly were these signs that Dorsey was a free speech advocate? Same signs that said Mao was a champion of human rights?

  12. Reason: corporation good, person bad.

  13. Elon Musk is a private individual, and Twitter is a private company. He can do whatever he wants with it.

  14. Even good well-meaning members of Congress should remember their employment contract. Every member of Congress, along with their staff, swore an Oath of Office loyalty oath NOT to violate anyone’s First Amendment rights or any other right.

    One cannot serve in Congress or any government agency without agreeing to this employment contract. This is the promise they made as a condition of holding and retaining governing authority. When they took their supreme loyalty oath they also promised they did so voluntarily. If they can’t honor that contract they should choose another occupation.

  15. Tucille - the stance of the other writers is that there is no free speech issue here. So even 100 percent control by a real (which Musk is not) free speech absolutist has nothing to do with free speech.

    Which is why Trump is banned and the CCP's accounts and socks get to post freely.

  16. The answer is obvious: Social media accounts should follow the user, not the platform. I doesn't matter if I send email via Outlook or Thunderbird, or Gmail, or whatever else. It's still my email account that travels with me. Ditto for my webpage. Likewise, my phone number travels with me from phone to phone, even from Samsung to Apple.

    This works because there are standard protocols in place. And not government protocols either, but hashed out by the early tech community before government realized there was a new industry to regulate.

    But my social media presence is owned by Facebook, or Twitter. There is no social media protocol, only social media platforms.

    So to decentralize social media we need to untie it from the platforms. We can do that. We have the technology today. But it means people will have to give up the old ways (cemented in place by network effects). Alternatives to FB/TW/YT/etc need to stop being insular platforms. That doesn't solve the problem, that's exacerbates it.

    Some people are working on this. And I think Musk's move could be step towards realizing it. You have a social media account just like you have an email account. Hell, it might even BE your email account. And then you can post anywhere from any platform and it's not walled off into a members only space. The advertising and stuff is still there, you just get to use the social media provider of your choice, and when you change you're not giving up any of your social network.

    This centralization of the social media on the internet is a temporary aberration if we could just get government OUT of the way. The solution isn't whiny Josh Hawley crying for more speech controls. The solution is for government to get out of the internet space. Because government solution is always a centralized top down solution by the dumbest people in society.

    1. "t's still my email account that travels with me. "

      Uh, no, that's not how email accounts work.

      You want to use Gmail - you make a Gmail account. Your Gmail account won't get you access to hotmail.

      1. You can probably configure IMAP to read an Outlook account through the Gmail interface. But that's still not having an outlook.com account at Gmail.

  17. Why does everyone project their preferences onto Musk?
    The objective fact is that he has made millions of dollars in three days by a few carefully timed tweets, and a stock purchase.
    He may or may not change how twitter behaves, but what he has done is a more subtle pump and dump. (if he dumps)

    1. This ignores a lot of previous statements by Musk.

    2. I think that Musk-- like most Silicon Valley execs-- has so much money, that a paper gain of a few hundred million on a stock swing means little to them. He's willing to throw his ideology around and say what he thinks. In Musk's case, we' just got lucky in that he doesn't believe in the bog-standard 'Diversity Equity and Inclusion' bullshit, he's concerned with free speech.

      If the goal was nothing but money, then we would have stopped seeing SV corporations (and Hollywood) lose billions in service to the woke ideology. Yet they persist.

      1. I don't think we're that lucky that only one major tech billionaire actually believes in freedom considering the many who don't (Gates, Zuck, Dorsey, etc)

        1. Yeah, but at least there's one. It could be *all* of 'em. :-.

    3. I doubt he would put himself on the board if he planned to dump anytime soon

  18. Elon Musk's Twitter Stake Is Promising, but Not a Permanent Fix for Free Speech

    But fear not! Reason is going to "fix" free speech by advocating for special regulatory handouts to a few gigantic media corporations! The ability of Google, Facebook, the NYT, and WaPo to propagandize the American people with impunity and destroy people's lives shall not be infringed! It's the Libertarian way!

    1. Show us, on the doll, where Google, Facebook, the NYT, and WaPo touched you, in a bad way? Can we bring you a warmed nipple-bottle of milk; would THAT help you out much?

      1. Shut up you Goebbels-worshiping fascist.

  19. So, Twitter must’ve gone woke (b/c my @$$ got blocked)‼️

  20. The real question for libertarians is do we need government intervention to insure that freedom of speech is allowed when much of the speech is controlled by private companies who are opposed to freedom of speech? Do we say private companies can do whatever they want and if you don't like it you can find a private company behaves differently?

    At this point I think that we do need government intervention to make sure social media companies are broken up if they get too dominant and aren't enforcing freedom of speech.

    1. It's not private companies' job to enforce the constitution. At least, that's absolutely 100% the libertarian position.

    2. At this point I think that we do need government intervention to make sure social media companies are broken up if they get too dominant and aren't enforcing freedom of speech.

      And I only predicted this argument would occur about 6 hours ago.

      https://reason.com/2022/04/06/elon-musks-twitter-stake-is-promising-but-not-a-permanent-fix-for-free-speech/?comments=true#comment-9434237

  21. TFW a "free speech absolutist" escapes 9th grade and becomes a billionaire and starts buying media companies.

    So Elon Musk wants to allow child porn on Twitter? He said he was an absolutist. He's already defended facilitating Russian propaganda on those grounds, and that's prolonging a brutal war, so I don't see how he can possibly be against child pornography.

    Discuss.

  22. Let President Trump back on Twitter and I will believe there is hope for private sector free speech.

    1. Private sector free speech isn't a thing.

  23. So.

    Musk is not a "free speech absolutist." He's "his speech should be free absolutist," and doesn't much care about a vibrant public discourse, save one that serves his purposes.

    The SEC doesn't like Musk because he engages in market manipulation, and has used Twitter to do just that. It's not like the SEC has just decided that Musk is an "enemy" that must be attacked. It's because he's violating the law.

    Any discussion about "free speech" on Twitter or any other social media site that fails to address (i) the likely necessary moderation of terrorist speech, child pornography, graphic violence, and so on, and (ii) the fact that every one of these sites relies on algorithmically sorting content and delivering ads to make money, is one that needs to be dismissed out of hand. Musk claims to want to give control over content to Twitter users, but don't think for a moment that this means a world free of editorial adjustment by the Twitter controllers themselves. It's just an oblique way of differentiating between the ending the censorship of content he wants to enable on the platform, and the censorship of content that any social media company must block and control, in order to turn a profit and maintain a usable service.

    No libertarian should cheer major media companies falling into the hands of people with a political agenda. That's how you get corrupt, authoritarian regimes without any meaningful domestic coverage of their excesses and abuses. And Musk clearly has an agenda, in this regard. He favors Trump and the corrupt Republican party because these are people who can be easily bought, and he wants to be able to buy favorable regulatory treatment of Tesla, government contracts for SpaceX, and favorable regulatory treatment of his market manipulation schemes.

    That's what this is about, and that's where Musk wants to go with this. So wake the fuck up.

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