Washington Submit columnist ‘frightened’ by prospect of Elon Musk shopping for Twitter
Washington Post columnist Max Boot in a column on Thursday said that he is “frightened” by the idea of billionaire Elon Musk buying Twitter and assuming control of the social media giant.
“I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter,” Boot wrote in a tweet on Thursday morning. “He seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.”
Musk earned headlines earlier on Thursday by offering to buy Twitter for $43 billion just days after news broke that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO would not join the social media giant’s board of directors.
Musk’s price offer of $54.20 a share is a 54 percent premium above the price for Twitter shares on the day before Musk invested in the company.
The conversation on Twitter in media, tech and political circles on Thursday morning was dominated by talk of Musk’s offer and speculation as to what his potential buying of the platform could mean for online discourse around the world.
Musk, a controversial businessman, has advocated for the allowance of more liberal free speech rules and regulation on social networking platforms, and has sparked a number of controversies with his own posts online.
Some users speculated that Musk, if he were to buy Twitter, would reinstate the account of former President Trump, who was removed by the company for violating its rules after the 2020 presidential election.
Boot’s comment calling for more content moderation was widely panned by conservatives on Thursday morning, many of whom suggested his assertion was an endorsement of censorship.
“Kill freedom of speech to save democracy? Say you’re a communist. Just say it,” responded Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has been suspended by Twitter on multiple occasions for pushing false or misleading claims. “You’re actually scared of people freely discussing ideas and saying words. You’re terrified of the impact on politics when truth isn’t censored. I’m offended by your weakness.”
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Chen Weihua, a columnist at a Chinese state-run media company, replied to Boot asking “more censorship for US geopolitical interest?”
“For democracy to survive, everything Max Boot wants must be imposed in top-down fashion,” quipped popular conservative podcaster and pundit Ben Shapiro.
“All the hyperventilating from Trumpist trolls in response to this post (claiming that content moderation=fascism) is a good example of the worst of social media,” Boot said in a response to his critics. “It’s corrosive tendencies should be curbed not amplified. Trump must never be allowed on Twitter again.”