Why Elon Musk isn't the 'free speech absolutist' he claims to be: libertarian

Why Elon Musk isn't the 'free speech absolutist' he claims to be: libertarian
Image via Creative Commons.

Billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and owner of Twitter since 2022, has claimed to be a "free speech absolutist." Musk drew a lot of criticism when he restored former President Donald Trump's @realdonaldtrump account, which had been suspended in January 2021 a few days after the January 6 insurrection. But he maintained that Trump, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and other MAGA Republicans whose Twitter accounts were suspended shouldn't be barred from the platform simply because they are controversial.

Trump, however, has so far declined to accept Musk's offer to return to Twitter, opting to maintain his own Truth Social as his primary social media outlet. The former president's last Twitter post was on January 8, 2021.

In MAGA media, Musk is often hailed as a free speech champion who defies "woke" ideology and left-wing "cancel culture." But libertarian/conservative journalist Cathy Young, in an article published by The Bulwark on April 10, points to Musk's treatment of the new Substack feature Notes as proof that Musk is not the "free speech absolutist" he claims to be.

READ MORE: Elon Musk's pitiful Twitter-tantrum against NPR shows no signs of ending

Young, who has a long history of criticizing both the left and the MAGA movement, explains, "Late last week, a bizarre new chapter opened in the saga of Elon Musk's reign as Twitter CEO. On Friday, users of the social media platform discovered that if they sent out a tweet with a link to a Substack page, interactions with it were so severely restricted that you might as well have tweeted into a void: no likes, no retweets, no replies — you could not even reply to your own tweet. In web browsers, the Twitter site would give an error message; in apps and on Tweetdeck, the attempt simply failed.… The functions were deliberately disabled after Substack announced a new feature called Notes, a service for short posts which could be a potential Twitter alternative…. The sweeping measure caused consternation among Substack writers for whom promoting their work on Twitter was one of the main reasons to be on the platform."

According to Young, journalist Matt Taibbi has been critical of Musk's Substack policy. Musk, however, has insisted that "Substack links were never blocked."

"This dumpster fire of an episode is a gloriously stupid finale to the 'Elon Musk, Free Speech Warrior' show that (author) Bret Weinstein and some other Musk allies imagine is still limping along," Young argues. "Musk, let's not forget, launched his Twitter acquisition bid with an explicit agenda of saving freedom of speech on the platform from excessive and intrusive content moderation…. It wasn't long after the Tesla founder took over Twitter that the limits of his commitment to free speech became apparent. Long before Taibbi's revolt — just two weeks after the 'Twitter Files' first dropped in December — (journalist Bari) Weiss, who also played a major role in their publication, criticized Musk for booting journalists from the platform during a spat over an account that tracked the location of his private jet."

READ MORE: Elon Musk sucks at Twitter, succeeds at fascism

Read The Bulwark's full article at this link.

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