HuffPost: Elon Musk Is Rolling Out Twitter’s Red Carpet For The Far Right
HuffPost: Elon Musk Is Rolling Out Twitter's Red Carpet For The Far Right
Elon Musk has a record of saying one thing and doing another, a fact that has become increasingly obvious and alarming since his takeover of Twitter has resulted in chaos within the company and an uptick in far-right actors and hate speech on the platform.
Take, for example, his circuitous route to owning Twitter. After offering $54.20 per share for the company in April and waiving due diligence, the world’s richest man tried to back out of the deal because, he alleged, Twitter hadn’t offered enough information about fake accounts. It was only months later, when Twitter sued Musk to enforce the agreement, that the Tesla billionaire moved forward with the acquisition.
But rather than beef up the team focused on spam and misinformation, Musk oversaw the shrinking of the company’s workforce by about two-thirds, a mixture of mass layoffs, firings and resignations. Then Musk said that anyone, even new Twitter users with unverified identities, would be able to buy a blue “verification” badge for $8 per month under his leadership ― only to reverse course after a staggering wave of impersonation and scam accounts rolled in.
Most significant, Musk has completely abandoned a commitment he made just a few days after purchasing Twitter. He promised to convene “a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints,” including “civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence,” before making any major content decisions or reinstating banned accounts that had violated Twitter’s rules. …
Emma Steiner, a disinformation analyst at the watchdog group Common Cause, said she knew of new accounts being created on Twitter that were focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, supporters of which call for the mass arrest or execution of public figures they accuse of being satanic pedophiles. Some accounts, Steiner said, are trying to “censorship check” Twitter by seeing what kind of material earns a response from the company ― what she called “a lot of boundary-pushing.” …
Steiner noted one recent high-stakes test Twitter faced: when Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, tweeted incorrect advice to voters on Election Day.
Voters in Maricopa County were experiencing long lines and printer problems in several polling places across the county, which is home to Phoenix and most of the state’s voters. Arizonans can participate at any polling place in a given county — if they’ve signed in to one, they only need to be “checked out” to go to another — but Lake urged voters not to switch polling locations at all.
Steiner contacted Twitter, urging the site to append a fact check to Lake’s tweets. Knowledgeable reporters, she noted, had pointed out that Lake was giving false information to her supporters. The tweets could potentially suppress the participation of Lake’s own supporters in the election, a violation of Twitter’s rules.
“It was completely inaccurate,” Steiner said. “You just have to talk to a poll worker to be checked out, and then you can go to another location.”
Twitter “declined” to act on the false Lake tweet, Steiner said. Since then, Lake has repeatedly cited long lines on Election Day as part of her refusal to concede the election, despite trailing the winner, Democrat Katie Hobbs, by more than 17,000 votes.
Twitter’s refusal to address the false information from Lake is part of a pattern: The previous Friday, Common Cause had flagged multiple inaccurate tweets about vote-rigging and election fraud, some from accounts with more than 1 million followers, to Twitter only to hear the day before Election Day ― an unusually long response time ― that Twitter would not take action.
“It made us wonder if content moderation was still happening at the platform,” Steiner said. …
To the extent Musk is following any plan at all, it’s one of opposition to his perceived philosophical enemies, Steiner said.
“It does seem to be kind of an ‘owning the libs’ strategy.”