'Dangerous rubbish': Robert Reich explains why Elon Musk's idea of an 'uncontrolled' Internet is very dangerous
Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, is pushing back against Elon Musk's support of the idea of an "uncontrolled" internet. "Musk has long advocated a libertarian vision of an 'uncontrolled' internet. That vision is dangerous rubbish. There’s no such animal, and there never will be," Reich wrote.
In his latest piece published by The Guardian, Reich offered a brief timeline of the evolution of the internet noting how pundits initially believed the digital space would become a gateway for the masses to be better informed. However, he now admits that he's well aware that isn't the case.
"Pundits assumed the internet would open a new era of democracy, giving everyone access to the truth," Reich wrote. "But dictators like Putin and demagogues like Trump have demonstrated how naive that assumption was."
Reich went on to note that U.S. leaders in the Big Tech space did push back against former President Donald Trump's attempts to circulate falsehoods --- a move that Musk was not pleased with. At the time of Trump's exile from social media platforms, Musk argued that social media platforms should not assume a role “as the de facto arbiter of free speech.'”
Although Musk advocates for free speech, Reich highlighted the irony in his actions. "Musk continues to tell his 80 million followers all sorts of things," Reich wrote. "I disagree with many of his positions, but ever since I posted a tweet two years ago criticizing him for how he treated his Tesla workers he has blocked me – so I can’t view or post criticisms of his tweets to his followers."
'He added, "Seems like an odd move for someone who describes himself as a 'free speech absolutist.' Musk advocates free speech but in reality it’s just about power."
Musk talks about freedom of speech but his real power is freedom of reach – reaching 80 million Twitter followers without accountability to anyone (including critics like me) – and enough money to buy himself a seat on Twitter’s board," Reich wrote.
"Musk has never believed that power comes with responsibility. He’s been unperturbed when his tweets cause real suffering. During his long and storied history with Twitter he has threatened journalists and tweeted reckless things. In Musk’s vision of Twitter and the internet, he’d be the wizard behind the curtain – projecting on the world’s screen a fake image of a brave new world empowering everyone."
He concluded, "That’s Musk’s dream. And Trump’s. And Putin’s. And the dream of every dictator, strongman, demagogue and modern-day robber baron on Earth. For the rest of us, it would be a brave new nightmare."
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