We should welcome Elon Musk's buyout of Twitter, officially completed this evening. Of all the social media venues, Twitter is the one used for politics and official government notices. Musk wants Twitter to be open to writers of all persuasions. He wants a viable forum for all of us to use for political discussion and public issues. This is a fine goal. Let's give him a fair chance to show what he can do.
I founded Northwest Citizen over 27 years ago. It was a platform for citizen journalism and a counter to the awful reporting by the Bellingham Herald. I was not trying to compete with the Herald but to identify important public issues they were ignoring and to call them out when they lied. Now, NWCitizen is perhaps the oldest citizen journalism venue in the world. I know a few things about open public venues.
With the rise of social media over the past 20 years, it has been sad to see the trashy job facebook and many other venues did in fostering anger, deleting legitimate content, hiding threads from people, and basically causing chaos. All in the name of profit. Twitter offered some hope and did better than others, but the founders lost their way.
The truth is, no one knows the right way to run a social media platform because we are still inventing it. But Twitter holds the promise of potentially being a worldwide forum for public issues. Musk is eager to try improving it. He has vision and has shown through his other businesses that he is not afraid to try new things, make mistakes, learn, and adjust. We should support his effort to improve it.
Musk is putting his own money into a project he believes will benefit humanity. He is risking billions for a good cause rather than spending billions on yachts, mansions, cars, or islands. His past endeavors have done enormous good for our world but that is another article. For now, I welcome his takeover of Twitter.
Comments by Readers
Carol FollettOct 29, 2022
I appreciate your generosity in wanting to open the arena for an online information and conversation space, but I am afraid I cannot follow your level of trust for an overly wealthy, highly egotistical, white male whose wealth jeopardizes any hope of fairness to begin with.
If he wishes to genuinely create a “green space,” he should give his money away with no strings attached to such an open journalism experiment. Actually, his money would be much better spent in donating to an educational organisation teaching critical thinking skills, ferreting out self interest and bias, evaluating the validity of sources and developing fact checking skills.
There con be no democracy when wealth is unconstrained. Since Citizens United unplugged the money cask allowing unlimited money to flow to candidates, any hope of genuine, balanced representation is gone and with it laws protecting us from exploitation. It appears we have returned to an era of monopolies that remove the ballast of our ship and bring is into danger of sinking, lopsided in their visions.
Diverse opinions, ideas, and people enrich society. Deep and honest, educated discussion with inclusive vision for all will move us to be creative, healthy, and mature people who may not only survive but thrive into the future. I do not believe this can happen under the weight of money moguls and their pet projects.
Dick ConoboyOct 29, 2022
I agree with your comments and have several of my own. I have never joined Twitter because I thought at the start that it would be a place where people would snap and snarl and lie to one another in snippets of several hundred characters (not words). How would this even promise to be a platform for the exchange of rational thought or considered commentary? And so it turns out that a tweet has an average reading level of the 6th grade. Surprised? The level of thought and critical thinking is likely hovering over kindergarten.
It’s a failed venture that has proved disastrous for civil discourse and virtually devoid of any meaningful dialogue. That Musk will have any better luck in controlling this bucking bronco of a “social network” is highly problematic even if he wants to… which is, in itself, unknown. Being a billionaire does not make anyone more socially, politically or culturally more competent, to wit: Musk, Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Murdoch, Koch(s), Bezos, Buffet, Ballmer, et cetera and ad nauseam. If they joined together in a club it would be named Soporifics Я Us.
“Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk”, an article by Sam Pizzigati written in 2018 was precient. ” Indeed, if Musk really wanted to ensure humankind a sustainable future, he wouldn’t be plotting escapes to Mars or marketing flamethrowers to the masses. He’d be challenging the global economic status quo that’s left him phenomenally rich and our world phenomenally unequal.” We can now add Twitter to Mars colonies and flamethrowers.
Tip JohnsonOct 29, 2022
If Twitter v.musk reinstates the twaitorist tweeter in chief I will remain at least skeptical
John ServaisOct 29, 2022
“Why would I leave Twitter? It’s like living in NY and not taking the subway. Sure it’s dirty and smells bad, but it’s how you get places.” - Dave Winer
Carol FollettOct 30, 2022
Thank you for sharing the link to the Sam Pitzzigoti article! I love his idea of a maximum income. Of course, fair taxation would bring that about, I think. Although I am not an economist, I know there is something greviously wrong with a system that brought us to jepordy in our dependence on a foreign power for essential supplies, is reducing our ability to choose our grocers (Kroger-Albertsons mega-merger could cause more US food deserts, experts say) and, of course, leaves so many without decent homes in which to shelter. The solutions requires us to be well and honestly informed and to be able to elect representatives who will do what is best for the health of us all, not of a corporation or individual meglamaniacs
John ServaisNov 20, 2022
Yesterday, Elon Musk enabled former president Donald Trump to resume posting on Twitter. I think that the right move for Elon for two reasons. It is a smart business move as it will keep and attract many other subsribers - both those supportive and opposed to Trump. And it enables a voice that is prominent in national and world politics. As the liberals and Ds fret and clutch their pearls, we should not care that T is back on Twitter. Let us counter T’s scurrilous words and lies with effective arguments.
Josh Marshall has a short post this morning on his Talking Points Memo website - but it is behind a paywall. Josh is, imo, one of the very best observers of our natioal political machinations. His is a very independent news media organization.
Josh writes, “Yes, if Trump could be systematically barred from all channels of mass communication in the country his influence would probably go down. But that is hardly a realistic or even meritorious strategy, especially in a country where 4 out of 9 people want him to be President.“
As Josh points out, Twitter is a private company and is in no way our national town square - and we should not think of it that way. If we do not like what a billionaire is doing then we can go to another social media platform. My guess is a one or more organizations are working on starting a competitor to Twitter right now.
Josh ends by suggesting “The only dignified response to this is a studied indifference.”