Like with anything these days, Musks's announcement that he was interested in buying twitter, and his offer filing to do so, has sparked a flame. The variety of opinion out there, the battles, the insults, and the "ooops" comments are nothing short of a cacophony.
Elon, like almost all big profile twitter users, has landed on the conclusion that censorship is a huge problem on social media. He, as I'm sure we can all agree, leans towards a libertarian mindset, and as such, holds the idea of freedom speech very high on the list of priorities.
Freedom of speech
Is an ideal, a Utopian one, arguably, because as much as we would like to be absolutist, it's hard to be OK with someone screaming fire in a crowded room to send people into panic, and use the ideal to package it as a "right".
Many thinkers on both sides of the ideological isle who uphold freedom of speech have done all the heavy lifting trying to best define it for our modern times, but needless to say, we've not found a way to make it work 100% of the time.
A modern legal test of the legitimacy of proposed restrictions on freedom of speech was stated in the opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Schenk v. U.S. (1919): a restriction is legitimate only if the speech in question poses a “clear and present danger”—i.e., a risk or threat to safety or to other public interests that is serious and imminent. Many cases involving freedom of speech and of the press also have concerned defamation, obscenity, and prior restraint.
When Internet was young
We truly lived a time of digital freedom. You could say I was an early adopter, and back in the mid 90's everything seemed to be fair game. Communities were small enough to draw little to no attention from regulators, and it made it possible for even the most extreme ideas to have a place online.
I, funnily enough, belonged to a hacking group, and participated in software piracy almost openly so. (Dark past, I know) back in those days. Websites with how to do such things were not erased by authorities. Social media didn't exist, of course, thus finding them required searching, but Altavista and experience was all one needed sometimes.
You see, the point I'm trying to make is that the version of the internet we deem ideal did exist. I lived in it, experienced it on a 14,400 bit/s Robotics modem and a Pentium 100 MHZ processor. I still don't know how I managed to create web servers, forums, download massive files and all, but it happened.
This could be nostalgia
Internet has changed. It used to be a exclusive place for us nerds. There was no critical mass, nor a way for conflicting ideologies to collide head to head.
I'm hesitant to think we can bring back this young internet. At least not in a way that it can be applied to a social network like twitter.
I may be speaking out of line, but I think the old internet is totally incompatible with our current social platforms, and thus they would probably self destruct if they apply them. This is not because I don't miss the old internet, I do, but because the game is not hacky sack, but a soccer world cup.
Is social media controlled by the left?
No matter who you talk to, there is a good chance you've heard something along those lines, right?
If the person leans left strongly, and has been censored for doing so, he or she is likely to say the exact opposite of what I began saying here.
If they were lefty comrades, why then would they ban someone like the Amazing Atheist, @tjkirk, who is a raging lefty?
Along the same lines, if you or your friend leans right, you might be convinced otherwise, since you've seen right wing accounts get evicted from the platform too.
What does this mean?
That we are missing the big picture. These are companies who's purpose in existing to maximize profits. That's it, that's the end of the story.
If someone, a group of people or an idea, is causing the company problems. If the proliferation of a conspiracy can leave it open to liability, they, as a company who needs to think of it's bottom line, feel compelled to take action.
In other words, the answer is money. It's not ideology at all.
It's how you find Putin's account intact, yet Trump is still nowhere to be found. And if you think Putin is a lefty, then reading any further might be pointless for you.
Can Elon fix it though?
That is a more interesting question for us to think about, for us to entertain. If you ask me today, as things stand, I don't think opening the gates would fix everything so to speak.
There is no mechanism to deter behaviors that are toxic to profits that don't allow censorship to be one of the tools in the chest. So, if he can, then he would probably have to make some big changes.
When I happened upon Steem(now Hive), I remember thinking of the incentive mechanism as something close to ideal. Simply because acting disruptively, on most situations, prevented you from participating on the success of the blockchain.
Am I saying Hive figured it all out, and that Twitter is the old internet and as such can't take the next step? Maybe, but maybe this is something Elon has already though of too.
Listen, Hive is not without it's flaws, but It seems to me that the platforms being built on it are closer to fine tuning the balance needed.
So Elon should not buy it, then?
From where I stand, his announcement of the purchase has done a great good for the world. The main media is literally defecating it's pants with some admitting they are afraid of losing the control over the narrative.
I think this shows not what is true, that the media controls the narrative altogether, but it does show us that that is the goal they've always had.
It's also undeniable they've been losing more territory on this front, and their rating numbers reflect this reality.
Ideally speaking, since I support freedom. He should be able to do as he wishes. Nobody has the right to block a man from purchasing something he wants, simply because they don't like it.
The voices calling for him to end world hunger with all that money or to get taxed to oblivion are so ridiculous, I won't waste anybody's time breaking them down. Unless they openly start saying they support theft, and robbing Elon of his power of choice is morally OK, they should shut up.
What does this mean for us?
I think the whole experience, and the events to come, will help anyone building on Web3 fine tune the next step in social applications. We are witnessing the best laboratory conditions for the experiment of "online existence" and I for one, can't think of a strong catalytic to leave behind once and for all the old internet.