New York Times technology reporter Kevin Roose, who shares a censorious streak with many of his tech colleagues, reacted with dismay on the news that space entrepreneur Elon Musk’s on-again, off-again courtship of social media platform Twitter is back on again, on Wednesday: “Elon Musk’s Twitter Will Be a Wild Ride.”
One of Roose’s main concerns: That free-speech advocate Musk might make conservative voices acceptable on Twitter again. He also got in yet another smear of the conservative humor site The Babylon Bee:
Mr. Musk, who styles himself a centrist but often crusades against the “woke left,” has made no secret of his plans to make Twitter a friendlier platform for right-wing voices. He has expressed support for The Babylon Bee, a conservative satire site whose Twitter account was suspended after it published a transphobic humor piece about a Biden administration official.
(In October 2020, Roose whined that the humor site had a nasty “habit of skirting the line between misinformation and satire.” Needless to say, the leftist satire of The Onion doesn’t receive the same lectures from Times reporters.)
He warned that by the 2024 election, “The platform could look radically different by then -- more right-wing trolls, fewer guardrails against misinformation and extremism -- or it could be largely the same.”
Roose almost sounds like he’s rooting for Democrats in this paragraph.
Republicans are, for obvious reasons, excited about Mr. Musk’s taking over. But the ultimate political consequences of his ownership are harder to predict. It’s theoretically possible -- though, I concede, probably unlikely -- that Mr. Musk’s owning Twitter could be good for Democrats in 2022 and 2024, if it allows more Republican politicians to stake out extreme positions on Twitter that end up backfiring on them at the ballot box.
But whatever moves Mr. Musk makes before 2024, it’s a good bet that they will be closely scrutinized for signs that he is putting his thumb on the scale.
Owning Twitter is different. If the deal closes, Mr. Musk will have direct control over one of the world’s largest megaphones, and will be able to use it entirely as he sees fit -- whether that’s to turn it into a lawless free-for-all, take revenge on his political enemies, promote his own business ventures or do something else entirely. And given Mr. Musk’s penchant for seizing the spotlight, we can expect that whatever he chooses to do with Twitter, it won’t be boring.
Roose would evidently prefer social media dominated by censorious billionaire leftist hypocrites like former Vox-journalist Carlos Maza, who Roose gushed over in 2020.